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Posts Tagged ‘Scott Boras’

This week was basically all about options.  If we weren’t busy exercising somebody’s option, we were busy declining somebody else’s.  Hey, why not? They’re basically cheap locks; it’s a good way to keep a guy on board for minimal funds and minimal years.  That translates to flexibility, which is always a good thing.  Plus, it postpones contract negotiations, a solid strategy if you’ve got a lot on your plate during a particular offseason.

Case in point for that last one: Victor Martinez.  We exercised his option to bring him back as our starting catcher.  No surprise there.  And it’s no surprise that locking Victor Martinez for the long run is a top priority.  But that’s going to be a big project, so keeping him under contract until we can hammer out a new one is a good strategy.  The option effectively means that there’s no rush.  Expect Martinez to be back in a Boston uniform for the first of many years in 2011.  Although the arrival of Joe Mauer in the free agent market could potentially make that interesting.  It would probably play into our hands, being that Mauer will likely steal the show that year, leaving Martinez and us to take care of business.

Speaking of catchers, we declined our five-million-dollar option on Tek, but he picked up his three-million-dollar option, which includes another two million dollars’ worth of incentives, so our captain is coming back as a backup for three million dollars.  Not too bad, I’d say.  In terms of the role he plays on this team, there’s no better backup catcher out there for us, and being that he still has something left in the tank, it’s a pretty good deal.

Wakefield is coming back, folks.  Our deadline to pick up his option was Monday, and we agreed to a two-year deal with incentives that could boost the value of the contract up to ten million.  Within those two years, he’ll likely reach two hundred wins and 193 wins in a Red Sox uniform, a total that would break the current franchise record, held by both Roger Clemens and Cy Young.  Make no mistake: Wakefield would definitely be deserving.  How many other starting pitchers out there accept less money in favor of a tenure with a team that hadn’t won the World Series in almost a century, then voluntarily removed himself from the roster of the second World Series that team would go on to win because he felt he wouldn’t perform as well as another pitcher? Not many.  Believe that.

We declined our option on Alex Gonzalez, which was expected, but we’re still interested.  That’s also expected.  Jed Lowrie’s wrist sidelined him for essentially the entire season last year, and we need not just an everyday shortstop, but an everyday shortstop we can depend on.  That’s a luxury we haven’t had since Nomar wrote his one-way ticket out of town.  And with the improvement in offense he showed last year, Gonzalez would be a great fit.  Of course, what this gesture shows is that he’ll have to come at the right price.  Otherwise Theo won’t bite.

That’s basically all the news so far.  The GM meetings ended on Wednesday, so aside from these moves and Jeremy Hermida, we’ve been pretty quiet, but I don’t think that’ll last long.  Before the meetings ended, Theo met with John Lackey’s agent.  Smile, Red Sox Nation; Scott Boras is not John Lackey’s agent.  Free-agent negotiations with other teams start on Friday, so it’s likely he’ll be inundated with offers, but I could see us being a big player there.  We’re also supposedly interested in Dan Uggla; apparently there is potential in turning the second baseman into a left fielder.  Frankly, I don’t see that playing out.  Congratulations to Jason Bay, who won his first Silver Slugger! And that functions as even more of a reason for us to sign him.  I think we’ll focus our efforts there before we start turning infielders into outfielders.

In addition to options, the other big story at this point is arbitration.  We’ve got eight guys eligible: Casey Kotchman, now Jeremy Hermida, Ramon Ramirez, Fernando Cabrera, Brian Anderson, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, and, you guessed it, Jonathan Papelbon.  The arbitration process will probably be more or less smooth sailing for the utility guys and the no-doubts, the players who have clear bargaining power due to their consistently good performances.  I’d put Ramon Ramirez and Hideki Okajima in the latter category.  As far as Manny Delcarmen is concerned, his second half was just bad, so he’ll probably take some sort of cut.  Jonathan Papelbon will be quite the case; I’ll be very interested to see how that goes.  He obviously packs a lot of bargaining power, but there’s also no ignoring the fact that his walk total was up and his postseason performance was…well, let’s not go there.  Let’s just say he’s less able to pull off the I-should-be-paid-Mariano’s-salary routine this time around.  Especially because Daniel Bard is coming on strong and Billy Wagner has stated that he might be open to an arbitration offer that would bring him back to Boston next year.  Let’s face it: he wants a ring, and in this day and age ballplayers who want rings come to Boston.

Nick Green and Joey Gathright have opted to file for free agency rather than accept minor league assignments.  Green had back surgery at Mass. General on Monday, by the way, so he’s facing an uphill battle as far as market value goes.  Dice-K is going to begin his conditioning program early this year.  Thankfully.  Finally.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we’re ready to see him ace this year.  Or at the very least spend more time on the roster than on the disabled list.  Theo and Tito are in the throes of their search for a bench coach, and they’ve narrowed it down to four: PawSox manager Ron Johnson, Lowell Spinners manager Gary DiSarcina, minor league field coordinator Rob Leary, and outfield and baserunning coordinator Tom Goodwin.  Promoting from within.  I like it.  Really, there’s no better way to ensure that a new member of the coaching staff knows the franchise and the players; many of the players currently on the team have played for these guys in their younger days.

We’re biding our time but staying in the loop.  I think there’s a potential for a serious blockbuster deal this offseason.  Whether it’s Lackey or Adrian Gonzalez or someone else, I don’t know.  I’ll leave that to the front office.  At this point, so much is kept under wraps that it’s hard to know exactly who we’re pursuing first or what our main focus will be.  But I will say that either of those guys would have a hugely positive impact on our team.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens, I guess.  It’s a long winter; the speculation keeps us going.  That’s just what the offseason is all about.

The Bruins played three games this week.  We shut out the Penguins, lost to the Panthers in a shootout, and lost to the Penguins in sudden death.  The Sabres lead us in the division by five points, but at least we’re ahead of the Habs.  The Pats beat the Dolphins.

 

AP Photo

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Spring Training is boring.  There, I said it.  I mean look, half the team is playing in the World Baseball Classic, there are no more transactions to be made, and the Spring Training games are, you know, Spring Training games: the starters come in, do their thing for an inning or two, and then leave to make way for the prospects.  So as long as we see that everyone on the team is getting some playing time, and everyone’s healthy, and the prospects are developing nicely, there’s really not much else going on this time of year.  Except getting stoked for the season of course, but that’s still a few weeks away.  After a long winter, the wait is agonizing.

Some injuries, as usual.  Brad Penny had to halt his last bullpen session but Masterson’s got it covered.  Drew flew back to Boston to get an injection around his spine to relieve some back discomfort.  That’s a little more concerning, but nothing we can’t handle.  When we signed him we knew he was going to spend his fair share of time on the DL, so we’re equipped to take that into account and handle it.  And after his stint he’ll be fine.  We know that because in the days leading up to the injection he lit up batting practice.  So is it possible that there’s something wrong with him? Absolutely.  Will it really affect us that badly? Absolutely not.  Mikey Lowell’s recovery is progressing very nicely; he’s scheduled to DH on Tuesday against the Orioles.  It’ll be his first game since Game 3 of the ALDS.  Speaking of Mikey Lowell, some notes on the future: I see Youk moving to third to make room for Lars Anderson at first.  (Lars Anderson, by the way, is slated to be the first home-grown power hitter we’ve had in a while.)

The A’s will be finalizing a one-year deal with Nomar soon, which will come right after the team signed Orlando Cabrera.  I’m telling you, Nomar and O-Cabs can’t seem to get away from each other when it comes to trades.  And guess who finally found employment? Manny Ramirez.  The Dodgers signed him to a two-year, $45 million contract with a no-trade clause and the right of Ramirez to void the contract after the first year if he thinks he can make more with another team.  Finally.  After four months of Scott Boras not understanding that he has absolutely no leverage in trying to unload this man, the man finally finds a deal with the Dodgers after apparently “suffering” in Boston.  You know what? Manny Ramirez and Los Angeles deserve each other.  And that, my friends, is the end of it.

More on the A-Rod front.  Why am I not surprised.  He wishes Jose Reyes were leading off for the Yankees.  Apparently he forgot that the Yankees already have a shortstop and that this shortstop is supposedly his best friend.  Classic A-Rod.  Oh yeah, and he’s having hip surgery tomorrow and should miss six to nine weeks of the season with more serious surgery to follow after the season is over.  In the interest of being a good sport, I’ll say it’s always unfortunate when a ballplayer gets injured.  Other than that, no comment.

Finally, some words of praise from the A’s and also said Skankees.  We’ve all read Moneyball by Michael Lewis, and if you haven’t I strongly and highly recommend it; it’s really an outstanding book.  Anyway, here’s what A’s GM Billy Beane has to say about our front office:

One of the reasons the Red Sox have gained on the Yankees is because the foundation of their organization is run like a very successful small market, yet they have the ability to retain their premium players in their prime.  When a club does that, it knocks the wind out of not just their rivals, but also small-market competitors.

See? It’s not just Red Sox Nation; everyone else around baseball is also aware of the fact that Theo Epstein is a genius.  Even Brian Cashman:

The Red Sox are incredibly bright.  They have the best of both worlds…When you look at Boston, there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to win.  The fact of the matter is you arguably have the brightest front office with lots of resources and an ownership group that supports it.

Welcome to my world.

In other news, the Bruins traded Petteri Nokelainen to the Ducks for Steve Montador.  Two losses and a win since last weekend, one of those losses unfortunately coming at the hands of the Flyers.  Great.  Just great.  The playoffs are right around the corner, and now is not the time to fall apart.  On the upside we’re on top of the League again, one point ahead of the Sharks, who are now tied for first in the Western Conference with the Red Wings.  I’m not worried.  We’ll get it done in the end.

AP Photo

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Nothing groundbreaking to report this week.  The pitchers and catchers have started their regimens in Fort Myers, and everything seems to be proceeding according to plan.  Brad Penny had a great bullpen session on Wednesday, and Tek is psyched to be back.  He even says he wants to retire in a Boston uniform, and I believe it, unlike a similar claim made by a certain currently unemployed left fielder who shall remain nameless.  I mean we’re the only Major League team he’s ever played for.  He’s our captain.  And he knows what that means:

I’m going to work my tail off for this pitching staff.  I’m going to work my tail off with other catchers and other position players…This is where my heart is and this is where I wanted to be.

If Scott Boras hadn’t epically failed, Tek would’ve inked a deal with us sooner.  We all knew he was coming back.  And, despite his waning offense, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we’re pretty happy about it.  With all the new pitchers coming in, we’ll need him more than ever, and he can be a sort of mentor to the younger catchers and get them ready to fill his role when he does retire.

The point is, we’re in a pretty good place right now.  The trick will be staying there.  Big Papi, Mikey Lowell, Josh Beckett, JD Drew, Rocco Baldelli, John Smoltz, and Mark Kotsay are all more or less injured in some capacity.  Smoltz and Kotsay won’t even be starting the season on the active roster.  So we’re going to have to make sure all of them take their time with rehab.  But if anything does happen, we can rest assured that we have the depth to cover it.

I’d like to state here that Jed Lowrie should start at shortstop.  His batting average with the bases loaded is ridiculous, and he’s excellent defensively.  And he’s young and fast and versatile.  So yeah.  He should start.

Anyway, our future is bright.  2009 should be a great season.  The Baseball Prospectus projects a Major League-leading 98 wins for us.  And I think that’s definitely within our reach.  Maybe we’ll even win 100 games this season.  Our pitching is very strong, especially with the return to dominance of Beckett and the consistency of Lester.  And I have no doubt that the offense will light it up as usual.  Ortiz’s wrist has improved, Drew found his stroke, Jay Bay is a natural, and Youk is locked up for a good amount of time.  Not to mention Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah and Jacoby Ellsbury who, according to Dustin, has had a phenomenal offseason workout.  So I’m really looking forward to it.

Kevin Millar signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays, and Miguel Tejada admitted to lying to Congressional investigators who were inquiring about Rafael Palmeiro’s possible use of steroids.  I mean after the whole A-Rod story, this is sort of anticlimactic.  It’s a sad, sad day in baseball when you find yourself accustomed to hearing that every other big name is juiced.  Speaking of A-Rod, though, I hope he gets an asterisk.  I really do.  His attempt at explaining himself was just pathetic, and his apology couldn’t have been more ineffectual.  I’ll tell you something: the Yankees are livid right now.  They’re stuck with him for the next nine years, and they could be paying as much as $300 million.  And I don’t even want to talk about how that deal came about.  It was thanks to that stunt Scott Boras pulled right after we won the World Series in ’07, when he turned on his own little spotlight by claiming that A-Rod was done with New York before anyone in a Boston uniform had time to put on their champagne goggles.  Anyway, the Yankees are stuck with him, and that’s fine with me.  A-Rod and the Yankees deserve each other.

In other news, congratulations to Boston University for defeating Northeastern to win this year’s Beanpot Tournament.  The final score was 5-2, pretty lopsided for a contest between the number one and number three teams in the country.  On the other hand, a significant portion of BU’s roster has already been drafted by the NHL, so I guess it’s somewhat understandable.  As for the Bruins, we’ve hit a rough patch recently.  We’re currently riding a four-game losing streak, consisting of an overtime loss to the Flyers, a 5-2 roughing by the Sharks, a 0-1 loss to the Devils, and a shootout loss to the Predators.  All pretty hard to bear, but I’d say the results of our contest with the Sharks is the most concerning.  They beat us by three goals even though they’ve been struggling lately.  We and the Sharks have been battling all season long for supremacy over the league, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of racing them in the Stanley Cup final.  So we need to figure out how to match them, and fast, because it’s already the middle of February.  On the bright side, we’ve got 86 points.  That’s first in the league, three more than the Sharks and twenty more than the Habs, who by the way have lost ten of their last fifteen games.  Always something to smile about.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Walt Whitman had it right.  The captain is the man.  No question.  So if you there’s one guy you want to make sure you resign, it’s your captain.  And finally, after Scott Boras’s epically epic fail, I’m pleased to report that the deal is done.  Finished.  In the bag.  Signed, sealed, delivered.  Jason Varitek is coming back to Boston, the only Major League team he’s ever played for.  He signed a one-year, $5 million deal at the deadline, with an option for 2010 worth $5 million if Boston activates it, $3 million if Tek does, or $5 million if Tek activates it and meets incentives.  So the deal is as low as $8 million and as high as $10 million.  A very reasonable offer, if you ask me, especially considering that Tek’s offense is nonexistent these days.  But even if we’d had the opportunity to sign an offensively prolific catcher, I still would’ve liked to see Tek return somehow, in some role.  It’s true that, for some reason, the catcher’s position is notorious for aging quickly, but there’s just no way we would’ve been able to let Tek walk.  His role is too important to the team, especially with all these new arms coming in.  It seems obvious, but as Jon Lester said, there is a reason why he wears the “C.” We’ve weathered his low batting average in the past, and we can do it again, and with all the new pitchers we’ve signed, he’ll definitely be a big asset in ’09.

I still can’t get over the whole process, though.  I’ll tell you something: Scott Boras is thoroughly embarrassed right now.  Scott Boras committed a major error, and part of it had to do with the fact that this year’s market was exceptionally unkind to veterans.  Being a free agent in an economy like this is not pleasant, especially if you’re past your prime.  And if you’re an agent, you’d do well to recognize that.  Otherwise your client will go over your head and broker a deal without you.  Let it be stated here that Boras has been beaten at his own game.  Wow, that felt great to say.

Mike Lowell is officially ineligible to represent Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic because he’s still in rehab from right hip surgery.  At least we know his recovery is progressing, and we can be happy about the fact that he’s being responsible.  I just hope his offense comes back, because his numbers were sweet in ’07.  (Can we say World Series MVP?) It looks like Kevin Millar has some decisions to make; the Orioles aren’t bringing him back in ’09.  Unfortunate but sooner or later everbody’s time comes, I guess.  And he does have a ring.  Meanwhile, Manny Ramirez is still unemployed.  Larry Lucchino has publicly stated that we will absolutely not be resigning him.  I was a Manny fan, and I miss his bat in the lineup just as much as the next guy, and we owe him a whole lot, but really, from a team’s standpoint, who would want to sign him after last season’s debacle.  It was just ugly.  There’s no doubt that he’s headed to the Hall of Fame, and there’s no doubt that he’s one of the greatest sluggers of his era.  But those aren’t really incentives to sign a dude when you can never be sure if he’ll play on any given day.

And last but not least, Joe Torre’s new book is coming out.  The Yankees Years.  And in the book, he writes that in 2002 it finally hit him that the Yankees aren’t an unselfish team.  More power to him for finally realizing that, but he could’ve just asked us.  But it gets better.  Who takes a verbal beating in the book but A-Rod.  Shocker.  It’s about time.  Torre writes that A-Rod wanted to be the center of attention, that he was routinely focused on himself, that he was overly concerned with appearances, and that his presence put a strain on the clubhouse.  I’m just glad someone within the Yankees organization is finally grasping what the rest of the baseball world knew for years.  And I feel compelled to mention that A-Rod brought zero pennants to New York.  That’s all I have to say about it.

In other news, the Bruins defeated the Rangers yesterday, 1-0.  The Bruins are now 24-0-2 when leading.  Tuukka Rask was in goal for his first NHL start this season and recorded his first career NHL shutout.  35 saves, and you should have seen some of them.  Outstanding peformance.  My friends, the future of Boston goaltending is bright.  Not to mention the fact that Phil Kessel and Andrew Ference are both back, and watching them you’d think they never missed a beat.  I have to say, we’re looking really good down the stretch.

Reuters Photo

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January’s winding down, and we all know what that means: moving vans on Yawkey Way headed to Fort Myers.  I’m so stoked.  And we’ve done some good business this week.  We cut a one-year deal with Javier Lopez for $1.35 million and avoided arbitration.  And we neatly avoided arbitration with Paps through a one-year, $6.25 million deal.  It’s the richest contract ever for a reliever in his first year eligible for arbitration, and it makes him the eleventh-highest paid reliever in the Major Leagues.  And his agent isn’t even Scott Boras (he’s with Sam and Seth Levinson).  But he deserves it.  I mean, the man is a beast.  He’s literally the best closer in the game right now; ask anybody.  Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve wanted to lock up a multi-year deal, but this is fine for now.  He’s not a free agent until after the 2011 season, and avoiding arbitration was a good move.  It’s a very ugly process, because you’ve got the player and the team presenting salary proposals to a panel of three arbitrators, who choose one one of the proposals after the player argues for his worth and the team argues against it.  So basically the team talks down its own player in front of a third party.  It’s totally base; let’s say the team and the player emerge from arbitration with a salary in place.  Then what? The player continues playing for the team that verbally destroyed him.  That can’t be good.  So it’s great that we’ve never gone to arbitration during Theo’s tenure.  Yet more proof that he’s a genius.

We dealt David Pauley to the Orioles for reliever Randor Bierd, and we dealt David Aardsma to the Mariners for lefty Fabian Williamson, a nice addition to our minor league roster.  As far as Varitek is concerned, you know how it goes.  Everything’s still under wraps.  But it has been confirmed that there’s an offer on the table, and this time I’d be very surprised if Varitek doesn’t accept.  When Varitek declined arbitration, he gave up an opportunity to secure a salary at least comparable with last season’s, somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million.  I doubt the offer he’s been given is worth that much, but he has nowhere else to go.  Other teams don’t want to give up draft picks to sign him, and Scott Boras epically failed.  I know I said that last week, but it never gets old.  Scott Boras totally, completely, absolutely, positively, epically epically failed.  So, in all likelihood, look for Varitek to return, but at a discount.

I think it’s worth mentioning that Manny Ramirez, one of the great right-handed hitters of this period in the sport’s history and pretty much guaranteed future Hall-of-Famer, hasn’t signed a contract with anyone yet.  I wonder why.  I’m not worried, though.  Boras will figure something out.  It’s just a shame that Manny’s own worst enemy is himself.

Sean Casey is retiring; he’s already accepted a position with the MLB Network.  Good for him.  His personality is perfect for television.  Unfortunate that we won’t get to see him at bat anymore, though.  He hit line drives like nobody’s business last year.  Jon Lester will be honored with the Hutch Award, given for honor, courage, and dedication.  That’s basically Lester in a nutshell.  That, and he’s also very intelligent, which we can see in this quote:

Anytime you can go to Boston and somewhat succeed, if not succeed, you can pretty much play or pitch anywhere, maybe with the exception of New York.

Because who in their right mind would want to play for New York? (With the emphasis, of course, on the “right mind” part.)

Anyway, the end of the offseason is in sight, and maybe we didn’t accomplish everything on our list, but we’re in a good position for 2009.  We saved money while maintaining our flexibility, we secured deals with our home-grown talent, and we fixed last year’s big problem: bullpen depth.  I think it’s safe to say our bullpen is pretty much locked and loaded.

In other news, it was All-Star Weekend for the NHL, and Boston was represented nicely with four of our finest: Blake Wheeler, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas, and Big Zdeno Chara.  All four did Boston proud. Wheeler won the YoungStars MVP, Savard came in second in the Elimination Shootout while Thomas made some unbelievable saves, and Chara defended his title as Hardest Shot with a record-shattering 105.4 miles per hour.  Can you believe that? 105.4 miles per hour! I saw it, and I still can’t believe it.  I’m telling you, I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of those.  And as for the All-Star Game itself, the Eastern Conference walked away with the victory.  The final score was 12-11.  It was a shootout to end all shootouts, and guess who was in net for the winners.  Tim Thomas.  He stopped Shane Doan, winner of the Elimination Shootout, no less, and Rick Nash.  Roberto Luongo stopped only Vincent Lecavalier.  Thomas should absolutely win the Vezina Trophy this season.  Nuff ced.

Bruins Images

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Mixed results this week, but we’ll go with the good stuff first.  And few things are better in the offseason than tipping your hat to a new Hall of Famer.  Congratulations, Jim Rice, on making it in! It’s about time; it certainly took the writers long enough.  But 382 home runs, 1,451 RBIs, and 14 tries later, the man is in! And he deserves it.  Add to those stats a .298 career batting average and the 1978 American League MVP Award and just try to tell me he’s not Hall material.  Finally, Jim Rice gets his due.  And we’re not talking landslide here; he appeared on 76.4% of the ballots and garnered 412 votes, 1.4% and 7 more than the necessary amounts.  But, he’s in.  Finally.  Just sayin’.  And who could forget his good Samaritan moment in ’82, when an opponent’s foul ball hit a four-year-old in the forehead, and the kid started bleeding heavily.  Rice ran into the stands and got to him before the medics and carried him to an ambulance.  He saved the kid’s life.  How’s that for a Hall of Famer.

John Smoltz has been officially introduced, and I think his friend Tom Glavine said it best:

I know it’s going to be fun for him playing in Boston.  I’m envious that he’ll be playing in Boston and I never got to play in Boston.

Again, just sayin’.  But wait; there’s more.  Turns out that Youk and Theo finally reached a consensus; he’s locked up through 2012 with a four-year contract extension and an option for 2013, and that, my friends, is definitely something to be happy about.  I mean he’s probably the best first baseman out there right now; two seasons ago he didn’t make an error all year and last season he split time seamlessly between first and third.  And that’s just his defense.  You have to like Theo’s style: building a team with home-grown talent.  I’m a big fan.  It’s always a plus when your team has a front office and a business side that you can respect.  That’s way more than I can say for most other organizations around the league, especially one in particular, and we all know what I’m referring to.  The Yankees will deliver $180 million to a single player over eight years.  The Red Sox will distribute $14 million to five guys for one year each.  What this does is it maintains our financial flexibility, and in a depressed market that’s absolutely key.  When other teams are busy unloading contracts in the middle of the season, we’re busy weighing our options and taking advantage of opportunities.  The whole Tex thing wasn’t pretty, but as I said you never know.  In Theo we trust, as they say.

But, as always, it’s never smooth sailing, even with the home-grown boys.  Papelbon filed for arbitration, so unless he and the front office reach an agreement within the next few days, let the games begin.  I really hope this doesn’t get ugly.  To be fair, he does deserve some kind of raise.  We paid him $775,000 last season, which was an absolute steal.  I don’t even want to think about how many figures he’d command on the market.  Javier Lopez filed also, and he was surprisingly consistent last season.  I wouldn’t necessarily give him a raise this time around, but if his consistency continues he could be in line to become our principle setup man (unless Okajima permanently returns to form, which would be awesome, because the dude was bringin’ it in ’07).

Last but not least, negotiations with Jason Varitek have taken a surprising turn.  Varitek actually asked to meet with John Henry in Atlanta and said afterwards that the meeting “went well.” That’s a very good sign.  Let’s recap: this past season was the last year in Tek’s four-year contract, so he filed for free agency in October.  He was offered arbitration but declined because who but Scott Boras was convinced that he’d be able to land a long-term deal and a nice pile of cash elsewhere, but that was not going to happen because if another team signed him, it’d have to concede a first-round draft pick to us.  Granted, it’s not over yet, and we’ll still have to wait and see, but either way I think it’s safe to say this was an epic fail on Scott Boras’s part.  An epic fail.  Scott Boras epically failed.  I think I’ll say that again: Scott Boras epically, epically failed.

One other thing I’d like to see the front office do in addition to restoring some order to our catcher situation is to lock up a deal with Jason Bay.  He was fantastic.  Came over mid-season with  some big shoes to fill but put the pressure in check and just lit it up.  He’s a natural in the postseason, he runs the bases, he plays the wall nicely, and he’s reasonable price-wise.  Lock it up.

Oh, yeah.  Gabe Kapler is a Ray, and Alex Cora is a Met.  Who knew.

One last point.  On Thursday owners approved a proposal by Bud Selig that ensures that every postseason game will be played through, clearly a response to the ’08 Series’s Game Five, the one that was stopped on account of rain, started again 46 hours later, and eventually proved to be the clincher for the Phillies.  Major League Baseball also adopted a new procedure for determining home-field advantage in tiebreakers for playoff spots.  Instead of a coin toss, it’ll be decided by head-to-head records, intra-division records, and second-half, intra-league records, clearly a response to the White Sox winning home-field advantage by a coin toss and beating the Twins, 1-0, for a playoff spot last year.  I’ll tell you something: Minnesota is not happy right now.  Minnesota is seething right now.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps yesterday, 2-1.  Marc Savard scored our only goal in the second period.  On the bright side, it wasn’t a blowout, but it wasn’t our typically dominant performance.  No, sir.

Frank Galasso

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Make no mistake: Theo Epstein, our resident baseball genius, knows exactly what he’s doing.  And this nice little shopping spree the front office has quietly been accomplishing is pretty impressive.  We re-signed Mark Kotsay to a one-year deal, and we acquired Takashi Saito and John Smoltz.  I’ll say something about John Smoltz.  The man is old, but the man’s still got it.  We also have ourselves a fourth outfielder: Rocco Baldelli.  Grew up a Sox fan in Rhode Island, and now he’s living the dream.  As for his health issues, extensive tests were conducted before the signing, and his contract is reasonable: a five hundred grand base plus performance incentives, so we’ve got it covered.  One other thing: he’s wearing Number 5.  Nobody’s worn Number 5 in Boston since July 31, 2004, when Nomar left.  So that’ll take some getting used to.

All of these deals were bargains, but they were bargains for a reason.  Baldelli wasn’t the only one with health issues; Saito and Smoltz both had significant injuries in ’08.  But both are also in better shape than Bartolo Colon, so I think they’ll recover nicely in Boston.  One thing’s for sure: our rotation will be deep.  Way deep.  And I have to say, I like Theo’s style: making due with the situation, shopping for bargains and unlikely successes, finding bargains here and there, ending up with a World Series ring.  It works well.

So I think we’re good with pitchers.  The rotation is covered.  What we need now is a slugger.  Which brings us back to the story of who but Mark Texeira.  It just keeps getting better and better.  Apparently he received similar offers from the Red Sox and Yankees but picked New York because his wife told him to:

I said to Leigh, we were sitting at dinner, ‘Everything’s equal. Where would you want to play?’ Finally, she broke down and said, “I want you to be a Yankee.” That’s what did it for me.

There are a couple of things wrong here.  First of all, Tex’s wife isn’t the one playing, so she shouldn’t be the only one calling the shots here.  Second of all, her reasons for wanting to go to New York apparently involved family.  She actually thinks New York City is a good place to move a family.  I can’t comprehend that.  I mean, I’m in Yankee country, so I’ve seen the city.  It’s not pretty.  Boston, on the other hand, is a completely different story.  New York City? Come on.  If I weren’t in shock at the audacity of this woman, I’d be laughing out loud.  DJ Gallo explained it best in ESPN’s Page 2; that was just what Teixeira said, but this was what Teixeira meant:

Yeah, once the Yankees offered me $180 million, I was more than happy to go along with my wife’s wishes. Just yesterday, she said, “Mark, I want you to take the trash out.” And I will, just as soon as she pays me $180 million.

But then Peter Gammons brought up an interesting point.  Looking back on it, there could only have been one reason why Leigh Teixeira wouldn’t want to move to Boston.  One reason only.  And this reason is so profound, so legitimate, and so significant that it and it alone was the only thing that could’ve made her husband put on pinstripes: the shops on Newbury Street were clearly unsatisfactory.

Hideki Okajima visited St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, where he spent time with kids suffering from cancer and other illnesses.  On Monday, Theo Epstein and Peter Gammons spent time with kids at the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston, and they played at yesterday’s Hot Stove/Cool Music for the Foundation to be Named Later.  I say this all the time but it’s true: stuff like that just make you proud.

Hall of Fame results come out tomorrow, and this is Jim Rice’s last chance.  So we’ll see what happens.  Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah is the cover athlete for Sony’s “MLB ’09: The Show.” As he should be.  This is ’07’s Rookie of the Year and ’08’s second base Gold Glove and Most Valuable Player.  This is also the guy who, at yesterday’s Hot Stove/Cool Music baseball roundtable, responded to Rays outfielder Fernando Perez’s statement of how it felt to beat us with “Don’t get used to it.” Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah is the man.

Finally, a 139-year-old baseball card was found in California.  It’s a picture of the “Red Stocking B.B. Club of Cincinnatti, the first professional baseball team.  It’s one of the first baseball cards ever made.  At least some things in the sport are still sacred, even if Scott Boras and his shamelessness aren’t.

In other news, the Bruins’ last two games ended in decisive victories: a 6-4 win over the Sens and a 5-1 domination of the Canes.  We’re 8-2-0 in our last  ten with 66 points, one point shy of the League-leading Sharks.  But there’s something bigger going on here.  I keep saying that I think the Bruins will finally bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.  But let’s think about that for a second.  We’re about a week and a half into January with approximately three months left to play.  And we’re still pretty much at the top of the National Hockey League.  This is more or less how it’s been since the season started.  Let’s not forget that the last time Boston saw the Stanley Cup was in 1972.  Between then and now we’ve just been dreaming about it.  But looking at the numbers again and taking it all in, it started to occur to me that this might actually be real.  We could be in the process of witnessing a championship season.  Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

AP Photo

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