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Thursday, December 14, 2006

  Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Shortstop

Julio Lugo at press conferenceLost in all the madness surrounding the Matsuzaka cross-country trek was the announcement by the Red Sox that free agent shortstop Julio Lugo has been signed to a four-year contract. He will replace the 2006 shortstop, Alex Gonzalez, who signed recently with the Cincinnati Reds.

Lugo will not measure up defensively to Gonzalez, who had the highest fielding percentage of American League shortstops with greater than one hundred games played and should have won the Gold Glove instead of that defensive wanna-be from the Bronx. He is also two years older than his predecessor. But where Lugo will excel is in hitting and baserunning. Though he doesn't typically hit for high average, a quick comparison of career numbers shows why the Sox have been enamored of this guy for a few years now.

One other interesting statistic I noticed is Lugo's propensity to hit many more ground balls (1.43 grounder-to-fly ratio for Lugo versus 0.81 for Gonzalez), yet he grounds into just 9 double plays per 162 games compared to 12.8 for Gonzalez.

And besides all that, you have to respect a guy that wears a pink striped tie to his introductory press conference.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 3

I like this signning very much

Me too. I know there are several Red Sox fans who are anti-Lugo, in large part because he is such a step down defensively from Gonzalez, but I think he'll do well here. I have already added him to my wish-list of spring training autographs....

He looks damn good in a Red Sox hat. I can't wait for him to bring his fiery attitude to the team.

  Score One for Theo and the Trio

Daisuke Matsuzaka arrives in Massachusetts in winter attireHe arrived in Massachusetts last night bundled in down and a faux fur-trimmed hood. It is safe to assume that the Red Sox brass were feeling warm and fuzzy in their own way.

If they were fleeced by Scott Boras in giving J.D. Drew a five-year, $70 million deal with no other teams bidding, the Red Sox have evened the score with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Thus sayeth Nick Cafardo in this morning's Boston Globe, describing the apparent coup by the Red Sox front office in getting the much-hyped young pitcher for not much over their initial offer. According to ESPN.com, the numbers come out this way:

Contract incentives in the last four years of the contract provide additional money, up to a maximum total $8 million over the life of the contract, for finishing high in Cy Young or MVP voting. So even if Matsuzaka qualifies for all those incentives (meaning that he wins the AL MVP and Cy Young award in each year from 2009-2012), then he will have cost the Red Sox a grand total of $111.11 million over six years—less than two million dollars a year more than what Theo Epstein initially guessed it should take to sign him, but a whopping six and a half million per year less than was "super agent" Boras declared his new client's value to be.

The deal, due to be announced in a press conference this afternoon, makes this off-season a far cry from the last, when the front office was fighting amongst themselves, notes the Boston Herald's Tony Massarotti:

Epstein and [CEO Larry] Lucchino did a pretty good job beating each other up last offseason. Now, in the winter of 2006-07, the Red Sox collectively are kicking ass and taking names.

In the end, on this one, even the estimable Boras appears to have been no match for them.

This is big news, folks—not just in Boston and Japan, but around the world, from China to the United Kingdom. Hell, even Al-Jazeera covered it in a report posted December 14, 19:11 Mecca time. No, I'm not kidding about that last part.

This feels like the Thanksgiving weekend signing of Curt Schilling in 2003. Dare we hope for the same results?

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

Thank you theo for signing him He will be a great addition to our starting 5 of :Curt Schilling
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Josh Beckett
Tim Wakefield[who has dougie back to catch him yay!i didnt want to have to watch tek catch him scary.And number 5 will likely be Jonathan papelbon then we also have Jon lester

I'm torn about Papelbon. It seems a shame not to use him as a starter, but who will the closer be? Unless Theo can pull a closer out of a hat, what happens with Lester in spring training may determine Papelbon's role. If Lester is ready for the rotation, I think we'll see Papelbon back as the closer, at least at first.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

  More Matsuzaka Details

From Sports Illustrated:

Daisuke Matsuzaka has reached a deal with the Boston Red Sox for 6 years, $52 million, SI.com's Jon Heyman has learned. The deal contains escalator clauses that could bring it up to $60 million.

That would bring the Red Sox' total money spent to get Matsuzaka, including the posting fee, to $103 million before any money earned via the "escalator clauses," which I presume are incentives for appearances, awards, etc. Theo's target was $100 million including the posting fee, agent Scott Boras' was $100 million without the posting fee.

If this is true, I'd say Theo won. I wish I could poke a stick into Boras' eye right now.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Leavin' (L.A.) on a Jet Plane... with Matsuzaka

From ESPN.com:

Daisuke Matsuzaka headed to Boston on Wednesday with Red Sox officials, a sign Boston had reached a preliminary contract agreement with the star pitcher.

"They all took off together," Red Sox owner John Henry said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Team president Larry Lucchino said shortly after noon ET that the plane was leaving California.

In prior days, agent Scott Boras had said he would not allow Matsuzaka to travel to Boston for a physical unless the sides had reached a preliminary agreement.

From Michael Silverman at the Boston Herald:

Daisuke Matsuzaka and his agent Scott Boras are flying back to Boston with the Red Sox this afternoon, a clear sign that the sides are going to be able to strike a long-term deal.

Owner John Henry confirmed this morning from Florida that Matsuzaka and Boras were on his private jet, which took off shortly after 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Multiple sources intimately involved in the talks said that the negotiations are ongoing, but that the final language of a long-term deal has not yet been struck. One source said it is too early to say that a preliminary agreement has been reached. However, it is safe to conclude that Matsuzaka and Boras did not board Henry's private jet if both they and the Red Sox were not, at the very least, hopeful of striking a deal.

From the Gordon Edes' blog at the Boston Globe web site:

The Red Sox contingent in Southern California is currently flying back to Boston with pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and his agent, Scott Boras, on board.

"You can assume that a deal is done or close," said one source with direct knowledge of the talks.

Team owner John W. Henry confirmed that Boras and Matsuzaka were flying back with the team, writing in an e-mail to the Associated Press: "They all took off together." Team president Larry Lucchino said shortly after noon EST that the plane was leaving California.

And just as a reminder that there are other negotiations going on... Also from Gordon Edes:

The Red Sox have called a 3:30 p.m. press conference to officially announce the signing of free agent shortstop Julio Lugo to a four-year contract.

Lugo will be joined by Red Sox manager Terry Francona and assistant General Manager Jed Hoyer. [This would be because Theo and Larry are on a plane with Matsuzaka —Ed.]

In an interview this morning on Boston sports radio station WEEI 850 AM, Lugo confirmed that his deal with the Red Sox was official.

"To tell you the truth, I had some [other] offers with more money," Lugo said this morning. "I always liked Boston, I wanted to come here, I want to play here. I love it here. This always was my first choice here. Boston was my first choice ... when I used to come here and play with Tampa, the people [were] great. The fans [were] great. I like the stadium. I like the fans here, they're loud. They drove me crazy when I was on the other side, so I want to be on their side."

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

  Scott Boras, Scum of the Earth

Has anyone else noticed that "Boras" sounds exactly like "Boor Ass"? I tried to find a picture of a boor ass, but this is the best I could come up with on short notice:

But anyway, I finally realized who Scott Boras reminds me of. Alan Eagleson. Seriously. We're seeing the same kind of selfish disregard for a client now that Boras is "representing" Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka that Eagleson made infamous when he screwed his clients, most notably Bobby Orr, out of great contracts because he had power and felt like using it.

To some readers, this may be old news. Boras has always been a hard ass (hey, there's another rhyme!) but he's being positively unreasonable about the Matsuzaka negotiation, if you can even call it a negotiation when only one side is willing to move. (Hint: I won't name the side that isn't willing to move, but his initials are Scott Boras.)

So Boras doesn't like the current posting system for Japanese players. Cry me a river. I don't like the federal income tax system or how short the days are in December or the fact that my life insurance premium goes up every year. Life sucks and then you die.

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo probably has it right when he speculates that Boras is using Matsuzaka "as a test case of the posting system." It doesn't much matter to the agent that his temper tantrum will likely cost his current client both a major league salary for 2007 and loss of face; Boras figures that if he can make such a mockery of the system that MLB and the Japanese leagues are forced to change it, he'll end up with more money down the road. And with Boras, it's all about his money, what he feels he has coming to him, at the expense of the people he is supposed to work for.

At this point, I'm almost hoping the deal doesn't get done, if only to cement for Boras the reputation among Japanese players that he so richly deserves, that of a selfish pig who uses his clients to get what he wants, not what they want. It would serve him right if future Japanese players, coming as they do from a culture that prizes honor, shun him like the pariah he is.

By the way, if the Red Sox fail to sign Matsuzaka, expect a chorus of whining Yankees fans complaining that the Sox only posted the high bid to keep him away from Steinbrenner. Expect them to forget that the Mets, not the Yankees, were the next highest bidder. Forgive them their ignorance; it's genetic.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

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