Monthly Archives: December 2013

This Week in Boston Baseballing, Dec. 6 – 12

A very quiet Winter Meetings session for the Red Sox. Boston’s front office flew down to Disney World in relatively good shape and left Orlando yesterday in essentially the same state. The team’s most significant activity over the past few days was a reported minor league deal with 37-year-old Japanese submariner Shunsuke Watanabe.

The AL Managers Luncheon Photo
Check out Joe Maddon’s hair hat.


Mike Napoli Re-Signs with Boston
As it turns out, failing his physical last winter will net Mike Napoli some extra cash. The 1B/DH re-upped with the Red Sox for two years and $32 million, a $3-mil per year raise over his initial three year, $36 million deal originally signed at the end of the 2012 season.

It’s hard to fault the front office for being overly cautious when Napoli was first diagnosed with a degenerative hip condition when he went in for a physical last winter. With a year’s worth of intel to work with and little else on the market, the Red Sox pay extra for their caution, but have a better knowledge of how Napoli fits on the team in 2014-2015. Everything turned out pretty well for both sides in the end.

Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles Want to Play the 2013 Red Sox
From BostInno’s Hayden Bird:

Hiroshi Mikitani, the owner of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, is apparently a little taken aback by the claim from the Red Sox that they are world champions. Given that Major League Baseball teams are based in only two countries, it is admittedly difficult to claim such an international prize as the title “world champions” implies. And since Mikitani’s Golden Eages won the Japan Series earlier this year, he feels that the two champions should meet to decide the rightful world champion.

In January 2006, MLB’s 2005 World Series champion White Sox actually did play Bobby Valentine’s Chibe Lotte Marines in a seven game series and dispatched their Japanese counterpart in five games.

Schilling To Provide Color on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
Aw fuck.

The Team Expands Its Fenway Liquor License
You’ll now be able to buy beers up until the end of the 7th inning no matter how damn long the game has already been under way. The ruling is of course a landmark for fans attending Red Sox-Yankees games, which typically run longer than any other matchup in the majors.

From MassLive:

The Red Sox will now be allowed to sell alcohol until the conclusion of the 7th inning, regardless of how long the innings last. Prior to the ruling, alcohol sales at Fenway concluded two hours after first pitch or at the bottom of the 7th inning, whichever came first. The commissioners said that the 7th inning stoppage of alcohol sales would create more consistency in the sale of alcohol because the two-hour mark in some games can come as early as the 5th inning.

The Matt Kemp Rumor Mill
In his preview of the Winter Meetings on Grantland, Jonah Keri broached the subject of Boston meeting with the LA front office in Orlando to discuss a Matt Kemp trade:

Boston is the team most frequently linked to Kemp. The Red Sox lost Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees, and might not yet be willing to give Jackie Bradley Jr. the starting center field job. Of course, one big reason the Red Sox just won the World Series is that they dumped a quarter-billion dollars in contracts on the Dodgers in August 2012; it might be counterintuitive for Boston to turn around and take a huge contract back from the same trade partner.

Kemp is reportedly off the market as of this writing. Which definitely means he’s still on the market.

Jon Lester and a Contract Extension
The Herald’s Scott Lauber has Cherington publicly acknowledging that the team is exploring a contract extension beyond 2014 for Jon Lester. Lester turns 30 in January and, since he’s a pitcher, it’s not unreasonable to think his best years are still ahead of him. Using Philadelphia’s six-year, $144 million deal with Cole Hamels in 2012 would be by far the largest contract for a pitcher in team history.

Frozen Fenway Will Include a Sledding Hill
Obviously the proceeds from this endeavor will help the Sox pay Masahiro Tanaka, right? MLB didn’t take into account the unbalanced profitability of the offseason sledding hill paradigm when it implemented a $189 million luxury tax threshold. This is a market inefficiency that Boston is poised to exploit.

fenway sledding hill

Artist rendering from Boston.com, as supplied by the Red Sox.

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This Week in Boston Baseballing, Nov. 29 – Dec. 5

A tough week for Boston Red Sox fans. The team signed catching asshole A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year, $8 million contract on the same day that the Yankees inked Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal. Making matters worse, a disappointingly wholesome issue of Improper Bostonian featuring NESN’s Jenny Dell hit newsstands.

Next week, Ben Cherington and Co. fly to Disney World for the Winter Meetings, which run from December 9 – 12.

The Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury
Boston’s homegrown center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is heading to the Bronx, signing a seven-year deal. The Red Sox extended an offer that reportedly topped off at six years and $120 million.

Ells has gotten his big payday after helping the Sox to two World Series championships. It seems the majority of fans are happy for him or are at least grateful the Sox held a firm negotiating ceiling. Not surprisingly, Deadspin grabbed at the lower hanging fruit by listing a rundown of the ignorant, vocal minority within Red Sox Nation. As Boston Sports Media Watch noted, a lot of the local media is probably to blame for projecting the opinions of the relatively few “mouthbreathers” on the fanbase at large.

Anyway, the Shane Victorino signing last winter looks even better now, if that’s possible after his 2013 campaign. As Matt Klaassen writes on FanGraphs:

The Victorino contract, however, makes even more sense now that Ellsbury has left. At the moment, Bradley appears to be in line to the be starting center fielder in 2014, with Victorino returning in right field. If Bradley gets hurt or needs to be sent down, the Red Sox have Victorino to take over in center field. If Bradley does well, they still have two center fielders out there, not only providing good defense, but enabling one to have a day off when he needs it.

The Yankees Will Exceed the Luxury Tax Threshold in 2014…
…You know, if that makes Red Sox fans feel any better. As Yankees blog It’s About the Money details in Goodbye Operation 189, Ellsbury’s arrival in New York isn’t exactly a mic-dropping moment in the team’s offseason:

….At this point it’s safe to assume the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold this season is going away. Mathematically it could still be done and still be done with room to spare if A-Rod’s suspension is upheld. But it would come at the expense of filling more than 1 of the remaining roster holes with better players and there’s been nothing to indicate the Yankees have any interest in taking that route. You don’t plunk down $238 million to address a few holes and then call it a day, not when the top free agent on the market who also happens to be your best recent homegrown player is still unsigned and not when your current 3-5 starters have a combined 436.2 career IP.

The Red Sox Sign A.J. Fucking Pierzynski
As detailed in this space on Tuesday, A.J. Pierzynski is hardly the first maligned player to join the Red Sox. Most of these types of guys wind up as journeymen for good reason during the latter stage of their careers because their value is aided by their lack of popularity. Yet somehow Boston shelled out an alarming $8 million for Pierzynski, who joins his third team in as many years and will hopefully be relegated to part-time duty by August. Perhaps the Red Sox could find it in their hearts to introduce Variable Ticket Pricing that includes discounts to fans having to personally witness the sight of Pierzynski in a Red Sox uniform?

Salty Goes to Miami
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s signing with the Marlins for 3 years, $21 million almost became a footnote within a few hours thanks to the Pierzynski and Ellsbury signings. Deadspin didn’t even bother collecting any related Red Sox fan tweets containing misspellings.

Cherington Adds Reliever Edward Mujica to Arsenal
The Red Sox GM just could not help himself from signing the reliever on the free agent market that most closely resembles Koji Uehara. As his fastball velocity has diminished in recent years, Mujica has remade himself by primarily featuring a breaking ball that is best classified as either a splitter or change-up. When that pitch is on, it is eerily similar to Koji’s shutdown split. At a cost of just under $5 million per year for 2014 and 2015, the move is shrewd and a much better bet for depth than trading for a guy like Joel Hanrahan. Or Andrew Bailey. Or Clay Mortensen…

The Standells’ Dick Dodd Dies
The Red Sox first played “Dirty Water” after every win back in 1997, but the song had been a fan favorite at Fenway Park for years prior. Bet on “Dirty Water” enduring a hell of a lot longer than “Sweet Caroline.”

‘Villainous’ Red Sox, Through Recent Years

Multiple sources confirmed on Tuesday that the Red Sox signed A.J. Pierzynski, much-maligned around the major league, to a one-year, $8 million contract for the 2014 season. Red Sox fans must now do that awkward dance of pushing aside personal feelings to route for a guy who has been decried, by and large, to be an Asshole™.

Granted, things like long-term payroll flexibility, recent durability and bridging the prospect gap all factor into these types of decisions. There are only so many Sean Caseys to go around. And while Pierzynski may take the cake for universal disdain throughout the sport here in December 2013, he is hardly the only villainous man to don the Red Sox uniform.

A brief rundown:

2014: A.J. Pierzynski – Unless the Red Sox wind up signing Barry Bonds or something.

A.J._Pierzynski bleached blond

2013: Alfredo Aceves – Like a bad bowl of fettuccini, it started off promising but the end was just a shitshow.

2012: Vicente Padilla – A notorious head-hunter by the time he came to Boston. Resembling Heath Ledger’s Joker didn’t hurt from a more literal standpoint.

vicentepadillajoker

2011 – Erik BedardServed with papers related to unpaid child support just prior to one of his starts during the abortive September collapse. Bedard wound up pitching just 2 ⅔ innings in that game, allowing four runs on five hits, two walks and zero strikeouts in a 7-5 loss. Not that those kinds of things could possibly serve as a larger distraction than pitchers drinking a couple of beers, eating chicken and playing video games during their off-day…

2010 – Jonathan Papelbon – It may not be fair, but that first season his K/BB rate crashed down to earth was the same year his personality started to get a bit tiresome.

2009 – Nick Green / Brad Penny – One guy (Green) probably definitely slept with Heidi Watney and you just know the other tried desperately.

2008 – Julian Tavarez – Mainly on the team to somehow cancel out Manny’s nuttiness.

Tavarez and Manny

2007 – Eric Gagne – Kind of the Jose Canseco of relief pitchers, if you will.

2005 – 2006 – David Wells – Keith Foulke’s meltdown in 2005 gets a pass for his work the prior autumn. Wells’ fat, enormous existence as a Red Sox served mostly as an annoying reminder that Pedro was gone.

davidwellsonboston

2004 – Orlando Cabrera – Go the Nomar route here if you’re into prevailing media narratives. But Cabrera had to have done something off the field to make ownership cut ties with him so abruptly and basically volunteer itself for years of turnover at the shortstop position. Mileages will vary on the details surrounding the departure.

2003 – Shea Hillenbrand – Using a homophobic slur in his “joke” request that Theo Epstein trade him put him on the Pierzynski Map. But, really, he always seemed like a douche. His departure went unmourned.

2002 – Ugueth Urbina – He did his worst work later

2001 – Carl Everett – C. Everett Koop, in his space, creating…

Carl Everett headbutt on umpire

2001 – Jose Offerman – It’s bad when a Dan Shaughnessy column calling for your head isn’t totally off-base.

2001- Rod Beck – the Original Kenny Powers

Rod Beck fleer card

2000 – Manny Alexander – On a roster loaded with those guys, it’s Alexander by a hair for throwing a high-school-aged batboy under the bus rather than face criminal drug possession charges for anabolic steroids. Carl Everett gets a pass for this season because he was pretty good for most of his first year in Boston. There was a time, believe it or not, when his craziness seemed kind of charming.