Saturday, January 19, 2008


Even though he literally works for the enemy, our best wishes go out to the terrific writer, moralist, professor of popular culture, and BP and Pinstriped Bible author, Steven Goldman, who is recovering from surgery. Get well soon, Mr. Goldman. You are in our thoughts.


The Red Sox are trying to resolve some contractual issues with a few of their younger (read: haven't been in the majors very long yet) players. Chief among those is starting first baseman Kevin Youkilis who made the paltry sum of just over $400,000 last season. [pause to dab at tears...] Youkilis was likely one of the only players who's World Series share was greater than his salary.

Fortunately for Kevin and the next eight generations of Youkilises, this is the season to cash in. Youk is finally arbitration eligible meaning he gets a raise. The way this all works, generally speaking, is that both the player and the team exchange salary figures and if they can't agree then both figures are submitted to an arbitrator who listens to arguments from both sides and then choses one of the figures.

According to the Boston Globe, Youk submitted a figure of $3.7 Million, while the Sox offered $2.525 Million. In either case young Mr. Youkilis should be set for a while.

This whole process got me thinking that while Youkilis is the prototypical Red Sox player, I wonder how long he'll be in a Red Sox jersey. He is 29 years old this year, and by the time he is eligible for free agency, he'll be 32. That means that just as he is getting really expensive, his skills are going to start to drop away.

One thing we've all learned beginning somewhere around 2003 give or take a few years depending on your learning curve, is that the Red Sox aren't likely to settle for below average production from a position too long without making a change (whether that change will be an improvement or not is another matter entirely). This isn't to say Youkilis is below average. I don't believe he is at all, but in three years relative to his salary his production may not be equal in value to what his salary demands will be at that time.

While Youk is great at getting on base, he doesn't have the power that one normally associates with a corner infielder. The one saving grace for Youk is his defensive flexibility. Lowell is signed for three more seasons and one can safely assume that he'll play at least two and likely all three of those years in Boston. After those three years, the position of Red Sox third baseman will come open again coincidentally right as Youkilis reaches free agency.

Lots of things can happen three years down the road. There are a million variables to consider, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me to project that far in the future. But, it will be interesting to see as it always is, what the Sox do. For now, they are set at the infield corners with Youk and Lowell for three more years.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Thats right, Dougie is back! Get ready for another year of Ks from The Soul Patch.

Not finding anything remotely palatable on the market, the Red Sox decided that the devil they know (who can catch knuckle balls) is better than the devil they don't (who, presumably, can't).

You can exhale now.


In his excellent blog on Monday, the internet's Aaron Gleeman went through a semi-thorough explication of the Red Sox and Yankees reported offers to the Twins for Johan Santana and provides his always well reasoned opinion in terms of which deal would be better for Minnesota. (Spoiler alert: NY's offer is better.)

Its a very interesting and well-written piece, which isn't surprising for Gleeman. Probably like many baseball bloggers, reading Gleeman's stuff was an inspiration of sorts for starting this blog. And while I intended that as a compliment, now that I re-read it, I'm not so sure it really is.

In any case, Gleeman consistently does a great job, and if you don't read him on a regular basis then you are missing out. As for his post, while I agree with his analysis, I think he undersells some of the Red Sox lesser prospects who are reported to be included in the deal, Jed Lowrie in particular. I wouldn't mind seeing Lowrie play shortstop for the Sox next season, though with Julio Lugo's increasingly-terrible-by-the-moment-contract that isn't likely to happen.

The truth of the matter to me comes down to how the Twins value the different players, what the state of their farm system is at the moment and what their plans are for the next three to four years, when they would cheaply control most of the players they would acquire in trade. For example, if the Twins think they will be able to compete in their division in two years, getting a single great prospect (Hughes) could be the best way to go. A single great player can push a contending team into the playoffs. However, if they think they have many holes to fill, they could be better off getting multiple above average and average major league regulars, which it seems to me is what the Red Sox deal is about.

One thing that Gleeman nails is that most prospect evaluators regard Hughes as one of, if not the best, starting pitching prospect in baseball. Thats a hard chip to beat, whether you have a hole the size of Lake Minnetonka in center field or not. While Hughes is the one with the highest upside, conversely, its the Red Sox offer, not New York's, that taken as a whole has the higher upside.

I discussed the Red Sox players a number of posts ago, and unlike the players the Yankees have offered, each player the Red Sox have offered has the potential to end up as an above average major league regular. Of course, like the Yankees package, that probably won't happen simply due to general attrition. Lets compare. I'll skip the Lester version of the Red Sox offer simply because Gleeman does.

Phil Hughes vs. Jacoby Ellsbury- Hughes is obviously the one uber-prospect here, but thats not to say that Ellsbury doesn't have star potential. He simply doesn't have the high ceiling that Hughes does, and of course, he doesn't have the burn-out or injury potential either.

Melky Cabrera vs. Jed Lowrie-Cabrera has a lower ceiling, and in a few years he may not even be a major league regular. His body type isn't one that you often see patrolling centerfield, and though he provides good defense now, that will change once his speed starts to go a bit and he doesn't have speed to lose. He'll likely end up in an outfield corner and that means that his bat will have to carry him, and there is serious doubt about his ability to hit enough to warrant playing him somewhere besides center field.

Lowrie could be a starting shortstop in the bigs, but more ideally he'd be second baseman. Still, he gets on base very well generally (a skill the Twins badly need) and better than any player mentioned in either deal, and has some projectable power. Unlike Cabrera, Lowrie will likely stay at an up the middle defensive position, and that has some serious value.

Justin Masterson vs. 'a pair of mid-level prospects-Masterson is a hard sinkerball pitcher who projects as a good set-up man in the bigs. Its unclear which 'mid-level prospects' NY would include in the deal, but its hard to give faceless prospects the lead over someone specific (and good).

Looking at the best case scenario for each player isn't particularly realistic, but its difficult to get a fair handle on exactly what each player will be. From what I've gathered, Hughes could be a #1 or #2 starter, and has ace potential. Ellsbury will likely be a starting center fielder who could make an all-star game or two. Cabrera is likely an average outfielder who will move to a corner in a few years. Lowrie is likely a starting up-the-middle infielder in a year or so who, like Ellsbury, won't be the best at his position (like Hughes could be) but should be comfortably above average.

After that, its tough to say because all the other potential additions are too far away from the major leagues to know. At that point you probably just look at projectability, and Masterson ranks higher than anyone the Yankees have reportedly offered. Now, if the Yankees are offering Ian Kennedy, then the discussion changes, but I'm assuming, like Gleeman, that Kennedy isn't on the table.

Despite all of that, Gleeman makes the salient point that the team that gets the best player wins the deal. If you accept that as fact then you are starting from a losing position when trading the consensus best starting pitcher in baseball in Santana. The only thing that remains is to get the best players that best fit what the team is trying to do and fill holes in your major league roster and minor league system. Otherwise you end up like Arizona did when they accepted what ended up being a bunch of junk for Curt Schilling.


With today's news that the Mets are getting back into the deal, the above could be rendered useless. It seems that asside from Hank Steinbrenner, every other participant in this two month long soap opera would rather that Santana end up with the Mets. The Red Sox don't seem too jazzed about giving up prospects and meeting Santana's contract demands, though they will to thwart the Yankees; the Yankees GM, and the lesser Steinbrenner brother seem to be in that same boat. The Mets would love to get him for obvious reasons, and the Twins would rather he end up in the National League so they don't have to face him all the time.

So, if the Mets can put together an offer that compares evenly with what is on the table now, I would expect that Santana will be wearing the light blue and orange come Spring Training.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Yes Jim-Mora's-Voice-In-My-Head. Playoffs. My team did pretty well when I put up a post over here last week (killed the Cowboys 27-6), so I thought, "Hell, it can't hurt to try again." And here we are.

After beating their arch enemies, the Redskins are in Seattle to take on the surely-over-caffeinated-and-therefore-ready-to-poop-at-any-moment Seahawks at one vowel short Qwest Field.


The Seahawks, you may know, had the easiest schedule in all of pro football this season, yet only managed to go 10-6. They haven't beaten a team with a winning record since Week 1 of the NFL season. This is a 7-9 team masquerading as a 10-6 team.

Conversely the Redskins had either the second hardest or the fourth hardest schedule in the NFL this year, whether you go by conventional statistics or more advanced, respectively. They beat a winning team last week (say what you want, Dallas played all of their starters into the third quarter at which point they were down two touchdowns), and they are an 11 win team in 9 win team's clothing.


Thats all the 'analysis' I'm going to put up here, but its probably pretty clear what I think is going to happen. Of course, that counts for absolutely nothing, and I've been known to be 100% wrong about things like this before, right President Mondale? All of which is to say I don't bet on football games. You may as well bet on puppy flipping.

With Johan Santana still in limbo somewhere over the midwest, no new contracts immanent for either Kevin Youkilis or Terry Francona, and nothing overly embarrassing coming from the great toilet in the Bronx, y'all could be stuck with some football posts here for a bit. Or the Skins could get smoked and I'd have to go back to writing about what an ultramaroon Hank Steinbrenner is.

Go Skins!

Friday, January 04, 2008


More non-news on the Johan Santana front. (Is there any other front? For better or worse this seems to be a one front off-season.) The in-again-out-again Yankees are in again, as Hank Steinbrenner has declared the team back in on Santana. I'm not sure what being "back in on Santana" means, (they're going to crush him with a truck?) but whatever it is the Yankees are it.

In related news, the Mets are either considering or not considering, depending on who you talk to, giving up Jose Reyes in a Santana deal. Also, they could be giving up the entire worth of their farm system, which, seriously, consists of four prospects. Or they might not. Aren't rumors great?

Of course the World Series Champion Red Sox are still in this too, though Peter Gammons doesn't think they should be. Or more accurately, he doesn't think they should pull the trigger. I can't say I disagree with him. Still, its hard to believe that the Sox have a legitimate shot at the consensus best starting pitcher in baseball and probably more than half their fans are going, "Don't do it!" That speaks to the might of the Sox farm system. Either that or the incredible conservatism that trading Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena has created among the fan base.

Still, as I've stated over and over and over again in unison with some people much smarter than I, Santana is still very likely to be dealt. Unless he drops his asking price by about $80 Million that is. Then the smart money is on his staying put. But the smart money isn't on him dropping his asking price by $80 Million, so he's likely gone.

Theres still roughly two more months until spring training starts though, so expect this to take about 1.9 more months to complete. Here's hoping Santana ends up with the Hiroshima Karp. How many yen is $160 Million anyway?

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I call shenanigans on Hank Steinbrenner. Isn't it illegal in MLB to discuss a player on another team? Its supposed to be, but Steinbrenner doesn't think twice about opening his fat yap and spewing forth about Santana on a regular basis. Shouldn't someone at MLB HQ do something about this?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Still no news on Santana. The Globe has had a post up saying the Sox are the frontrunners for a couple weeks now. I covered the players the Sox could include in a deal for Santana here, but its entirely possible that the rumors of the Twins holding on to him to start the season were true.

However, when wondering if a trade will happen, its important to remember that the market for Santana is the biggest its going to be during this off season. This is because Santana has only one more year left on his contract. Thus each game he pitches for Minnesota is one less game he can pitch for a new team, and one less game worth of value that a team would give up for him in trade.

The Twins could look to deal him at the deadline, but again, they'd presumably be getting less in trade for him than they would now. If they hold on to him for the whole season, all they'll get in return is two number one picks. So, all signs point to Santana being dealt somewhere before the season starts.

There is still a ways to go before Spring Training begins, so this could drag out for a while. Stay tuned!