Monday, December 06, 2010

When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail...

Tony Massarotti celebrates the Adrian Gonzalez acquisition with possibly the dumbest column ever posted at the Globe website. Obviously, there's a tremendous amount of strong competition, but Tony's got the right stuff to battle for the title.
Don’t people see? The Red Sox have not overachieved in the last eight years so much as they underachieved for the better part of the 20th Century.
Really. He wrote that. Do you need more?

Let's think about that last eight years for a minute. Over that span, the Red Sox have won 749 games, an average of 94 per season. They've been to the playoffs six times, and won two World Series. (The list of other ML teams with multiple WS titles in that stretch:       .)

Seriously, Tony? They've underachieved?

Of course, what would a Massarotti baseball piece be without a reference to Mark Teixeira, the Moby Dick to Tony's Ahab?
In many ways, of course, this all goes back to Mark Teixeira, whom the Red Sox failed to sign two winters ago because they drew the line at $170 million over eight years. Teixeira subsequently ended up in New York for $180 million and the Red Sox haven’t won a playoff game since. The Yankees have won a World Series.
Is there anyone else, anyone anywhere, who thinks that John Henry could have drawn the line at $180 million instead of $170 million, or at $190 million or $210 million, and the Yankees wouldn't have walked right over it? No. And Texeira made it clear afterwards that New York was where he and his wife wanted to be. Given that, is there any reasonable or realistic way that Boston could have signed him, Tony's fevered imaginings notwithstanding? It's tough to imagine how, given that the player preferred a specific location, which wasn't Boston, but was home to a team both willing and capable to match any amount that Boston put on the table.

Tony - Teixeira was NOT. COMING. TO. BOSTON.
Remember, the Teixeira talks were not the first time the Sox failed. In 2003, the Sox tried to acquire Alex Rodriguez, only to have things fall apart by insisting on reconstruction of the player’s contract...In retrospect, the fact that Rodriguez landed with the Yankees was a blessing. But that’s not the point.
No, obviously not. The point is beating up on an organization that's been the most successful in baseball for being cheap, because they've only outspent 28 of the other 29 teams. Great point there, Tony. Way to focus on the big picture.

With regard to Theo Epstein, his history reflects a similar (or better) return when the Red Sox have extended themselves and embraced a concept that the current Sox administration treats like a four-letter word: risk.
Right. John Henry, a man who has made a billion dollars running a hedge fund, needs advice from a Globe sportswriter on the concept of risk.

I lack the vocabulary to heap upon that statement the full level of scorn, contempt and mockery which it deserves.

In 2003, Epstein gave up prospects for Curt Schilling, who had just turned 37; the Sox won a World Series. In 2007, the Sox spent nearly a quarter-billion to secure Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo; again, the result was a World Series title. Whether those specific deals paid out individually is certainly open to debate, but the point is that the Red Sox were rewarded for their aggressiveness in one way, shape or form.
Excuse me? Are you suggesting that this underachieving organization that's unwilling to spend and doesn't understand risk has actually made big aggressive moves that resulted in championships? Doesn't that paragraph invalidate everything that preceded it? [Also note the weaseling in there, as Tony leaves himself free to both criticize the management for not making moves like that, as he does here, and to criticize them at other times and places for making those particular moves. I've heard him, several times, list the Drew, Lugo and Matsuzaka contracts as among the worst mistakes that the team has made: here, he's listing them as moves that they haven't made enough of.]

Back to the quest for the white whale...
When you sign big contracts, there is always the chance the deal will be a bust. Such is the cost of doing business. No risks, no rewards. The Red Sox failed in the Teixeira negotiations because they were afraid of, what, paying him $23 million a year instead of $21.25 million?
How about, they failed in the Teixeira negotiations because it takes two to tango and the party of the 2nd part had an option that he liked better than coming to Boston, and there wasn't a single damned thing that they could do about it?

Seriously. Is there really any doubt that, if they'd have offered him $300 million, Boras would have had an offer of $305 million from the Yankees ten minutes later?
Beginning in 2003, the Red Sox have had as many draft picks (28) prior to the third round -- that is, those rounds affected by free agency compensation -- as any team in baseball.
That sounds like a good thing to me, but I'm not Tony.

As much as that is a good thing, it also suggests that team officials have been running the Red Sox as if they were the Oakland A’s, Arizona Diamondbacks or Toronto Blue Jays -- all small-to-mid-market teams who truly cannot compete with the big boys on the open market.
Beginning in 2003, the Red Sox have spent $1.03 Billion on player salaries. The A's, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays have spent $468 million, $524 million and $541 million, respectively. They've outspent the big-market, 3rd biggest spenders in baseball, the New York Mets, by over 8% over that period. (They also spent $51 million on a posting fee to get Daisuke Matsuzaka, blowing away everyone else in baseball.) That suggests that Tony Massarotti either doesn't know what he's talking about. Or he's just making stuff up. Or he's an idiot. Your call...

And I've already mentioned the unhealthy Teixeira obsession, but just in case that seems a stretch, you just need to read to the end (if you can get there - I don't blame you if you can't):
Gonzalez fills the most glaring need in the Boston organization, in the short term and long, by giving the Red Sox the kind of middle-of-the-order presence that sent them chasing after Teixeira in the first place.

Just sign him, John.

At this point, you’ve already paid way too much.
Boston sports fans are regularly treated to some of the best bad sportswriting anywhere. (And there's some speculation that Herman Melville, a native of Massachusetts, actually had a Boston sportswriter in mind when he was writing the chaaracter of Ahab.) This is a classic of the genre...

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