14 December 2004

Tough Weekend...



He's gone- long gone.

So Pedro Martinez has accepted a four-year, $52 million dollar deal from the New York Mets, spurning the World Champion Red Sox and ending a run of seven seasons in Boston the likes of which none of us are likely to see again.

On Sunday, it appeared that the Sox had the clear inside track to keeping Pedro, and had done so by guaranteeing a third year, making it a ~$40.5 million dollar deal- according to nearly every available report, the Sox were "close, hammering out only minor details." Apparently, this was true- as soon as most of the details/ perks WERE hammered out, Pedro and his agent, Fernando Cuza, took said offer to the Mets one last time. Omar Minaya finally relented and guaranteed the fourth year, satisfying Pedro. Reports had Pedro returning to the Sox with the 4-year deal, only to be rebuffed- they'd gone above their market offer (2/$25.5), and weren't going to be strung along. It was the 3/$40.5 or no-go.

It was a no-go. Monday afternoon, shocking everyone, Pedro accepted the terms of the Mets deal, and Minaya had his ace, and he had the big splash he eyed upon being made GM. Make no mistake- Omar Minays is not waging a personell war right now- he's waging a PR one. Taking his cues from winning back-page wars and satisfying his fans four and a half months before the season starts, instead of at the end of it, Minaya is playing (and so far, losing) the same game ALL the GMs before him did. Glavine, Vaughn, and now Pedro- all great in their day, but overpaid for overlong past their prime to come and put asses in the seats through the inevitable blow up in mid-May.

It's not that I don't believe in Pedro. I will always believe in him- it's that this contract is utter lunacy. Witness too, the Kris Benson signing, a contract so ridiculous it boggles the mind- and why? Because Minaya didn't want the Mets looking bad giving up as much as they did for Benson and getting him for only a fraction of the season- with no impact. So he grossly, grossly overpaid for a mediocre pitcher, and set his legacy in motion. Minaya is in way over his head in New York, as the Benson signing, Sosa dalliances and Pedro signing all indicate.

He's never been a good GM, though. In Montreal he never really earned the reputation he had- as a gritty, down-on-his-luck GM who was scrapping to keep his team alive. Granted, the Expos were in an awful situation, and every player he couldn't retain was certainly understandable. There was obviously no way Minaya could afford Guerrero, for instance, on their meager budget. But why, for instance, would Minaya EVER let him get to free agency? The Montreal Expos held no aspersions to greatness- they were going nowhere. What they desperately needed was a package of prospects- not a couple of sandwich picks at the bottom of the first round. Minaya selfishly allowing him to reach free agency for some unexplained reason was criminal.

But what of the guys he DID trade? Let's take Javier Vazquez- arguably, at that time, the most attractive young starter available in MLB. The Yankees fleeced him, giving up a chronically injured 1B (Nick Johnson) who, while very good, was fast approaching his FA seasons and never projected to be a top-notch prospect, something Vazquez should have commanded. The Yankees attached underachiever Juan Rivera to Johnson, and the Expos were robbed. Again.

Much like the Cliff Floyd/ Bartolo Colon ferrago in Montreal. For Floyd, Minaya gave up a number of terrific prospects to the Marlins, and got Floyd for a couple of weeks before deciding, "eh, I don't think we can contend after all. Off to Boston, Cliff!" and for two middling Asian pitchers- one, Tomo Ohka, who has been a semi-solid back-of-the-rotation starter. The other, Sun-Woo Kim, who's been a ton of nothing. Colon, too- sacrificing more prospects to Cleveland (great ones, at that) on the thin chance they could have contended that season. Writers called him "gutsy." That ended when the Expos predictably tanked with no other pitchers/ bullpen/ middle of the order and Colon walked on to Chicago... in another horrendous deal.

Add to that his propensity to value hitters based on RBI totals, his questionable prospect class despite picking near the top every year- he had a lot of issues in Montreal to deal with, but it's not far off base to suggest he'd made it worse.

He has now made the Mets situation worse. Pedro will likely be very good in 2005- his arm is somewhat shakey, but a move to the NL and Shea in particular will certainly help his numbers. Pedro is the #1 again, and that will suit him fine. One wonders about how Willie Randolph will play Pedro's many transgressions and demands for special treatment, but it'll be interesting.

Every year that Pedro is under contract, though, his risk grows exponentially. This is why, essentially, the Sox were loathe to move past a two year offer- maximize the benefit, minimize the risk. There is considerable speculation that the Sox never wanted him- while it makes sense ostensibly, it really is a more complex issue. The simple fact is, Pedro was the best pitcher available, but likely not at his price. They likely knew that they were facing a calculated risk decision as soon as another team entered the bidding- they would have to improve the offer. If I had to guess, I'd say the Red Sox' 3-year offer was, at best, begrudging. They wanted him back, but not for that long. Pedro for two years is a safe bet. Pedro for three years is a risk, especially at his asking price.

Pedro Martinez, right now, at 4 years $50+ million, is literal insanity. Jayson Stark recently reported a source telling him that Pedro's labrum is "90% torn," likely a large hunk of bullshit there, but keep one thing in mind- if Pedro blows his arm out- like his brother Ramon, and God forbid- the Mets will be paying nearly 14 million dollars for nothing. Sound familiar, Flushing Meadows?

So now it appears Minaya is a fool- he's allowed public opinion to dictate his signing a pitcher well above what is fiscally sound. Then this: last night, Pedro balked at the prospect of taking an MRI on his right shoulder during the standard physical. Not only was there concern about his shoulder, but Pedro was all but conceding as much last night! The best part?

Minaya OK'd skipping the MRI and using only strength tests.

One more quick quote from the Stark column:

We surveyed a half-dozen baseball men Monday, after word of Martinez's stunning I Love New York tune began to leak around the winter meetings. The question we asked was this:


What are the chances of Martinez making it through four healthy seasons as a Met -- no muss, no fuss, no trips to the DL?


And the unanimous answer won't surprise you: Zero. None. Nada.


I wish Pedro four straight Cy Youngs- I do, I truly truly do. But I wish Minaya everything that comes with stupidity of this breadth. Right now, the award for "worst MLB GM" is a dead heat between Bowden in Washington, Minaya in New York, and Chuck LaMarr in Tampa (though I think Chuckles runs away with it).

I don't blame Pedro. His negotiating tactics weren't to my taste, but it's business- owners attempt the same from FA every year. I don't blame the Red Sox- they evaluated the risk with Pedro and decided that what Minaya was offering was far and away too much- and decided they wouldn't pay through the roof, especially considering that it struck them Pedro may have wanted to move on all along (even after ostensibly "agreeing" to a deal with Boston).

It's sad to lose someone like Pedro, but it's over. He's gone. I'll always have his days here- and I'll have a Pedro column soon- and I'll remember the things he did for this team in his seven seasons here. Unfortunately though- it's time to close the chapter on Pedro in Boston. I'll always love him, and he'll always be my "favorite player ever."

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My initial plan was to sort of wait the Winter Meetings this past weekend out and do a fullscale report after they'd completed, but with the Pedro deal sucking the wind from my sails and nothing much else of interest happening, I lagged. But, hey- here it is.


  • Steve Finley signs with Anaheim, 2 years, $14 million
    Good deal- Anaheim gets a good, powerful CF to move Garrett back to LF and doesn't get bogged down in Beltran money, allowing them to go get some pitching.



  • Russ Ortiz signs with Arizona, 4 years, $33 million
    Utterly incomprehensible. Mediocre/ below average pitcher. Tons of money from a team that seemingly not only didn't have much money, but were in rebuild mode. Don't know if these were intended as good-faith signings to convince Johnson to stay in town... but whatever it was, it was still retarded. Sorry D-backs fans.



  • Richard Hidalgo signs with Texas, 1 year, $5 million
    Great signing actually. Cheap, undervalued, will be good in Coors Lite Arlington, replaces the woeful Brian Jordan. What's not to like? Well, for starters... can he pitch?



  • David Wells signs with Boston, 2 years, $4 million per, up to $5 million in incentives each season
    This was really, really interesting, especially considering David Wells once said "if they're going to get rid of Fenway, they should give me a call, I'd love to be the guy to blow it up." Sure, he has health issues- but keep in mind that Wells has pitched 200+ innings in 8 of his last 9 seasons. He's a lefty, a quality pitcher, and a very big upgrade over Derek Lowe (who he'd be replacing). Taking much of Pavano's worth at a fraction of the salary was smart- if he pitches, he'll pitch well, and then he's worth the money. If he doesn't, we're not paying him enough to handcuff us anyway. A good mid-rotation solution for not too much money. The best part is, his and Schilling's contracts end just when Johan Santana, Mark Mulder, Ben Sheets and Roy Oswalt are entering free agency. This sets us up to have a lot of free cash to either trade for one early and/ or sign some when their time comes. This pays off reasonably well in the short term and is a long term plus.



  • Indians trade OF Matt Lawton to Pittsburgh for Arthur Rhodes
    Interesting trade here- Rhodes is getting pretty old, but to contend, Cleveland was going to need a good lefty out of the pen, something they didn't have at all, and they were keenly interested in shedding Lawton's ($7+ million per) contract. They did that. Of course, Rhodes wasn't in Pittsburgh long, having been traded there for Jason Kendall earlier this month. Lawton will be very good for Pittsburgh too- |.277/ .366/ .421| in '04



  • Carl Pavano chooses Yankees, closing in on deal
    Since we're not sure of the terms yet since he hasn't officially signed, I can't be sure, but I'm guessing that Pavano was very likely totally overvalued in this market. A good pitcher, but not a great one- he strikes out very, very few, but also walks few. Interesting to note his peripherals in 2003 were essenitally the same as 2004, but with a much better 04 ERA. What does that mean? It starts with an "l" and rhymes with "fuck."



  • Milwaukee trades RP Danny Kolb to Atlanta for prospect SP Jose Capellan
    This, of course, finally pushes Smoltz back where he wanted- the starting rotation. The Brew get a good prospect, and Atlanta gets... a questionable closer. 3.3 K/9. Yikes. He puts a LOT of balls in play. He'll have a good defense behind him (mostly) in Atlanta, but it could get ugly. I'm psyched to see Smoltz-y start again.



  • Peter Gammons earns JG Taylor Spink Award, garnering him induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame
    He's lost his fastball, and he can barely still write, but he once could better than anyone, and he's the best in the biz at what he does. Totally deserved- now for Boswell.



  • Corey Koskie signs with Toronto, 3 years, $17 million
    Good, low-level signing of a very talented player. This is Ricciardi attempting to absorb some of the inevitable loss of Delgado, I think, and Koskie provides that on both sides of the ball. This sort of admits to Hinske being a bit of a bust, too.



  • Chicago White Sox trade OF Carlos Lee to Milwaukee for OF Scott Podsednik, RP Luis Vizcaino
    Don't get this one. Chicago GM Kenny Williams is just awful. Podsednik was great for a year, and then predictably feel back to earth (.313 OBP), while he had a very good, cheap, genuine power hitter in Carlos Lee. I see no reason for this, honestly. Vizcaino is pretty good, I guess, and cheap. Whatever.



  • Pedro Martinez agrees to terms with the New York Mets on a 4 year, $50 million dollar deal
    Eh- pass.



  • Paul Byrd signs with Anaheim for terms indisclosed
    Injury history, but he'll be ok- he's a good back-of-the-rotation guy. The Angels need to keep working on that rotation, though. It's not horrible. In conjunction with this deal, Anaheim traded malcontent Ramon Ortiz to the Reds for prospect(s).


  • That's all so far.

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    In this post, I talked about Sports Illustrated goofing up and sending me the ball-in-trophy case half of the complimentary Red Sox Championship package, even though I'd cancel the requisite new subscription.

    Well, guess what came in the mail today? The other fucking half. I love, you, Sports Illustrated. Please feel free to use this method for free SI stuff.



    ***********





    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was a terrific, terrific film. I loved it. I have this odd, automatic response to Wes Anderson films- like they're quite like things and ideas I'm thinking, but with enough wit and accomplishment to suggest that I couldn't have had anything to do with it, and making it even more satisfying. Back when I was in high school, I started making a little movie in my house, and scored the opening scene to "Queen Bitch" by David Bowie. In Life Aquatic, it scores the final scene- in fact, Bowie is played nearly throughout and with little exception (including my all-time Bowie favorite, "Life On Mars?").

    These movies are universes and existences unto themselves- droll, absurd humor, art direction and specificity unrivalled in nearly any filmmaker anywhere. Every frame is so meticulously and wonderfully of the same aesthetic that it makes anything he does difficult not to love. Everyone was terrific- Bill Murray specifically, but also Anjelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe (who was hilarious), and even Bud Cort, he of Harold and Maude fame. Owen Wilson, once again, outdoes himself.

    I don't really know what to say about this movie (and Anderson's others) other than I love everything about it. I think this one was better even than Tenenbaums, though I think neither can touch Rushmore, which I think is one of the five best American films of the last 30 years.

    So go see it. Totally. Also, something I noticed? Suicide comes up a lot in Wes' movies. Good stuff all around.

    ***********



    Finally, this kicks some serious ass, and I'll get it when it comes out...


    The Broseph: My pants just got really tight...

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