January 31, 2009

2009 Bloggies: Reminder To Vote

You have until Monday night to cast a vote for The Joy of Sox as Best Sports Blog in the Ninth Annual Weblog Awards -- aka the bloggies.

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January 30, 2009

Varitek, Red Sox Agree on Contract

Extra! Extra!:
Jason Varitek and the Red Sox have agreed to a one-year contract with an option, a baseball source confirmed to the Globe's Tony Massarotti.

Varitek will earn $5 million in 2009, with the club holding a $5 million option for 2010. If the Red Sox do not pick up that option, Varitek has the choice of remaining with the club on a $3 million deal. In '10, he can earn another $2 million in incentives based on playing time, beginning at 80 games started.

Thus, the potential total value of the deal increases from $8 million-$10 million to $10 million-$12 million. The incentives apply to both the team and player options for 2010.

January 29, 2009

Globe: Varitek May Reject Sox Offer


Tony Massarotti, Globe:
According to a baseball source, the deadline by which Varitek must accept or decline the Red Sox' latest contract offer is set for 8:30 a.m. Friday, leaving less than a day for the matter to play out. According to the same source, Varitek is seriously considering the option of sitting out the 2009 season and/or retiring rather than accepting the contract offer made to him last week. ...

Independent of the Varitek negotiations, the Sox are expected to revisit talks with the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks about respective deals for the switch-hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the lefthanded-hitting Miguel Montero. ...
So Varitek would rather stay home in 2009 than accept the Sox's offer? At 37 years old -- and with his shitty 2008 season as his last on-field performance -- that would be de facto retirement.

This seems like nothing more than last-minute posturing from Boras -- the Red Sox may lose out on Tek for 2009 OMG!!! -- and it will fail. It's crystal clear that Boston will move on without blinking an eye. (SoSH TaLK)

Two Peeks Into Verducci/Torre Book

Tom, a book editor at Amazon and Red Sox fan, emailed me links to his comments on the new Tom Verducci book as well as the comments of his Yankee fan friend. Some brief snips:

The Yankee Hater's Guide to The Yankee Years by Joe Torre
Yanks owner George Steinbrenner was so -- I don't know -- cheap, or petty, or spoiled by victory that his scouts had to wait a full year to get their World Series rings after the 1999 season, and never got rings for the last year they won, in 2000, even though Steinbrenner pals like Billy Crystal did. ...

The greatest comic relief throughout is the Carl Pavano saga ... [including] Mike Mussina's offhand comment that the disabled list is now called the "15-Day Pavano" ...

Bullpen catcher Mike Borzello, giving his assessment of the first throwing session for Kei Igawa, the Japanese import the Yankees brought in for $46 million to compete with the Sox' signing of Dice-K Matsuzaka: "I hope he's either seriously hurt or badly hung over, so there's an explanation for throwing like that."

The Yankee Fan's Guide to The Yankee Years by Joe Torre
If you're a sports fan, by now you've heard endless amounts of coverage and "expert analysis" of what is supposedly featured in the book. Don't believe the hype. ... [I]t's nowhere near as nasty as what's being portrayed by the talking heads right now. ...

You can't read 10 pages of this book without another account of some tough-guy player breaking down from the pressure of playing in New York and/or playing for owner George Steinbrenner and his merry band of mischievous and sleazy underlings. Some of these revelations were pretty startling to read about:

* Former All-Star pitcher Kevin Brown, he of the stone-faced intensity and $100 million contract? Found curled up in the equipment room of the clubhouse half-naked and bawling during a game he was still pitching!

* Serial tough man Roger Clemens? Uncontrollable sobbing in the clubhouse during a game he was pitching in the World Series! This after his got all macho and threw a shard of bat in the direction of nemesis Mike Piazza.
Damn! Fat Billy cried, but it's Mordecai in the story I was wondering about.

January 27, 2009

Varitek's Deadline Is Friday

Tony Massarotti, Globe:
... a baseball source indicated tonight that the player was given "one week" to make a decision in a letter both he and agent Scott Boras received from the club on Friday, Jan. 23.

According to the same source, the Red Sox dated and mailed the letter on Thursday, Jan. 22, raising the question of whether the Sox meant to establish the deadline on the night of Thursday, Jan. 29. However, all indications are that club factored in the delivery time of the letter, placing the deadline at the end of the current work week.
Mazz adds that if both parties are talking late on Friday, we might not have an answer until Saturday morning.

Updike: Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

If you have never read "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu", written by John Updike (who died today at age 76) and published in the October 22, 1960 issue of The New Yorker, what are you waiting for?
My personal memories of Williams begin when I was a boy in Pennsylvania, with two last-place teams in Philadelphia to keep me company. For me, "W'ms, lf" was a figment of the box scores who always seemed to be going 3-for-5. He radiated, from afar, the hard blue glow of high purpose. ... I remember watching one of his home runs from the bleachers of Shibe Park; it went over the first baseman's head and rose meticulously along a straight line and was still rising when it cleared the fence. The trajectory seemed qualitatively different from anything anyone else might hit. For me, Williams is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday, before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.

January 25, 2009

Details Of Offer To Varitek

Rob Bradford has the scoop on the Red Sox's offer to Jason Varitek:
WEEI.com has learned from source close to the negotiations that the two-year offer made by the Red Sox to catcher Jason Varitek is for a guaranteed $5 million for the first year, along with a club option for $5 million or a $3 million player option for season No. 2 of the deal. It is believed incentives would be part of the agreement. The Red Sox have set a deadline for Varitek to accept the offer, although it is not known what that is.

Schadenfreude 65 (A Continuing Series)

New York Post:
Scorned skipper Joe Torre is blasting the Yankees - calling many of his former players prima donnas, confessing he stopped trusting the powers that be years before he left the team and charging that general manager Brian Cashman betrayed him.

In an explosive new book called "The Yankee Years," Torre gets most personal in his attacks against Alex Rodriguez, who he says was called "A-Fraud" by his teammates after he developed a "Single White Female"-like obsession with team captain Derek Jeter and asked for a personal clubhouse assistant to run errands for him. ...

The book also reveals that, during spring training in 1999, team doctors revealed to owner George Steinbrenner that Torre had prostate cancer - even before informing the manager himself.
The 477-page book is written in the third person by SI reporter Tom Verducci, who also interviewed dozens of players and team personnel. Verducci also worked with Torre on "Chasing the Dream", released after the 1996 World Series.

ESPN quotes a source familiar with the book who says the controversy is
overblown. Joe is very honest in the book, but he doesn't make any personal attacks. In terms of him name-calling, that's not his style.
We'll see. One topic mentioned in Amazon's description:
The high-priced ace who broke down in tears and refused to go back to the mound in the middle of a game.

January 24, 2009

Mazz: Source Says Red Sox Offer Possible Two-Year Deal To Varitek

Tony Massarotti, Globe:
According to a baseball source, the Sox have formally presented an offer to Varitek's agent, Scott Boras, that could appease the catcher's desire for a second guaranteed season. While the precise value or term of the proposal was unclear, the Sox could ensure Varitek a second year by guaranteeing it outright or making it attainable through an option.

In the latter scenario, Varitek could trigger the option through reachable incentives (like at-bats or games played), or the club could grant him a straight player option for the 2010 season. Another possibility would involve a dual option, first giving the Sox the choice of bringing back Varitek next season (at a higher number) and, subsequently, Varitek the right to return on his own volition (albeit at a lower number than the team's option).

The current offer to Varitek was made within the last three or four days, sources said, and it was unclear whether Varitek and Boras were presented with a deadline of any kind.
Hot off the press! (I hope it's not true -- 2010 also?!?).

January 22, 2009

2009 Bloggies!

The Joy of Sox is a finalist in the Ninth Annual Weblog Awards -- aka the bloggies.

The other four finalists for Best Sports Blog are: Mr. Fairway's Golf Blog, Fat Cyclist (last year's winner), MLB Trade Rumors, and Awful Announcing.

You can vote for Joy of Sox until 10 PM on Monday, February 2.
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January 21, 2009

Sunday Night Baseball Just Got Worse

Neil Best, Newsday:
ESPN will announce Wednesday that Steve Phillips will join Jon Miller and Joe Morgan in the "Sunday Night Baseball" booth for 2009, altering for the network's announcing lineup for its showcase event for the first time in 20 seasons of televising MLB.
I'll be surprised if I take the mute off ESPN at all this season.

First seen at toaster

Varitek: Liar Or Idiot?

This has been discussed at SoSH since last Saturday night, but I finally saw something in the Globe:
According to NESN's Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney, free-agent catcher Jason Varitek said he was not aware that teams would have to surrender a No. 1 draft pick in order to sign him and he takes full responsibility for his decision to turn down salary arbitration from the Red Sox. ...

"Varitek told me he wasn't aware that teams would have to give up draft picks now in addition to paying him and that's something that definitely cost him and he takes full responsibility for that," according to Watney. "He doesn't blame Boras for that."
And this is the guy who we are told prepares so diligently for every single game that the Red Sox pitchers would be totally lost without his extraordinary guidance?

January 20, 2009

Papelbon, Lopez Avoid Arb; Pauley, Aardsma Traded

Update: Boston has traded David Aardsma to Seattle for minor league lefty Fabian Williamson.


Jonathan Papelbon and Javier Lopez both signed one-year contracts today, avoiding arbitration hearings.

Bot's deal is for $6.25 million -- a record for an arbitration-eligible relief pitcher. Lopez signed for $1.35.

The Red Sox traded David Pauley, DFA'd when John Smoltz was added to the roster, to Baltimore for 24-year-old right-handed reliever Randor Bierd. In his first season in the majors, Bierd had a 4.91 ERA in 29 appearances, striking out 25 and walking 19 in 36.2 innings.

Catchers Market: The Angels signed Mike Napoli for $2 million, the Orioles grabbed Gregg Zaun for $1.5, and Ivan Rodriguez would like $3, but there's not much interest. Sean McAdam writes that Jason Varitek's value may not be as low as Zaun's, but "it isn't substantially higher, either".

January 18, 2009

McNamee Meets With Feds As Indictment Of Clemens Looms

We haven't been paying much attention to Fat Billy lately, but the Feds have.

Rick Morrissey, Chicago Tribune (also at the Herald):
In his hubris, Roger Clemens probably thought all of this eventually would go away.

He would swear to tell the whole truth before Congress, be as earnest as his constitution would allow and hope his seven Cy Young Awards would be more eloquent than he ever could be.

But it isn't going away. Federal prosecutors are tightening the screws like a compulsive carpenter. They're putting together a perjury case against him, and they're sending out invitations to the party ...

[I'm] intrigued by what it must feel like to be pursued the way Clemens is being pursued by the feds, especially when you've been a star most of your life. Fear doesn't seem to be Clemens' natural response to anything. ...

His supporters will say there's no fear when you know you've done nothing wrong. The rest of us will say there's no fear when you've spent your life getting your way. It's the only explanation for his refusal to give up this charade.
Brian McNamee, one of FB's former trainers, spent five hours on Friday with Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler (and FBI investigators), answering questions about his involvement in Clemens's drug use.

January 17, 2009

Varitek Says Meeting "Went OK"

Jason Varitek met with John Henry for about 90 minutes last night "to speak [about] how I feel" about playing for the 2009 Red Sox.

Afterwards, Varitek said the meeting "went OK" and there was "nothing to report." Henry did not offer any comment, saying "It wouldn't be appropriate."

I have not seen any reports of any teams discussing anything with Varitek. The market for him seems totally dry. I won't throw a fit if they resign Tek -- as long as it's for no more than $5.

Cathy Baskin: 1958-2009

Cathy Baskin, wife of SoSock/Tim Baskin, passed away on Monday, January 12.

Back in October 2008, many of you chipped in to help Cathy and Tim buy a used car, so Cathy could drive to chemo treatments.

Tim's first email:
I got news I didn't want to hear this morning. We've known it was coming for almost 5 years now, but it still hits hard when you get it.

Suffice to say I've spent all day in an ICU room, and the rare moments away from her side have been spent calling family, and the closest friends, who have all congregated like a warm blanket here, and talking and hugging in the waiting room. I was kicked out of the room about 30 minutes ago and told to stay away until about 9 for shift change, etc. ...

With some private time I decided I needed to call a few more people who would be upset if I didn't. Oddly enough, after a couple of those calls, which can be very draining, the next person I thought should know was not a person, but a community. I looked through my address book and there lots of people I need to call, but at this point, none who have been more a part of my life recently than your group.

You should also know many times she has expressed her awe and appreciation at the response of this group when she was in need a while back. Almost every single time we got in that car, actually, she said "I just love my car so much. It's made life so much easier". So thanks for that as well.

And as I said, I don't expect or want anyone to be in a funk all night, I just had to express how much like family this group has come to feel and say thanks.

I'm not sure when I'll be back on-line. I guess that depends on how the night goes, but I will keep you posted when I can.

Allan, you've built a great, and tight, community here, and it's been a "joy" many a night. I have a feeling it will be a very important distraction in the coming months.
This morning we heard this:
We lost Cathy on Monday, Jan. 12.

We laid her to rest on Wednesday.

Please know and take comfort in the knowledge that her death was more than peaceful, it was downright beautiful. That may sound odd, but it's so far the only word I've been able to come up with.

She was moved [from the ICU] to a nice room with unlimited visitation shortly after and spent her last couple of days completely, and constantly, surrounded by those she loved, and there were a lot of them.

Part of me wants to sit here and write about it now, partly so you might understand, and partly because it seems to help. ...

Please also know that I am surrounded by an incredible force of loving, supporting, and also grieving souls, and that you and your communities have been a part of that support. I will be fine, eventually.

Most importantly, know that Cathy understood what kind of people you must be. Even though she rarely watched a game, much less participated in the blog, she saw and recognized the connection I felt, and feel, and was thankful for it. Damn girl always has worried more about me than herself. She was honestly excited about the possibility of meeting you some day. ...

January 16, 2009

Varitek Meeting With Henry Tonight

Tony Massarotti reports that Jason Varitek is meeting with John Henry tonight
in the Atlanta area, where Varitek makes his offseason home. Varitek would not specify a location of the meeting other than to say it would not be at his home. Varitek's agent, Scott Boras, will not be at the one-on-one meeting.

According to a baseball source, it was Varitek who requested the meeting.
Seems like a resolution of some kind is not far off.

Also: the Globe has a transcript and video from Kevin Youkilis's press conference this afternoon:
I never pictured myself on another team. ... I've always seen putting on that Red Sox uniform everyday, putting on that B on the hat. This is home to me. I don't know any other place other than Boston to come to the field everyday and to live. For me, it's a great feeling just to know that I can be here and stay here for a long time. I was very happy from day one talking multi-year deals to stay here.

If You Are Planning To Buy WBC Tickets

Update: No update. Well, a MLB rep left a message at home, so I'll call him back on Monday.


If you are planning on buying tickets to any World Baseball Classic games, I strongly suggest printing your tickets immediately after purchasing them.

On Wednesday afternoon, I purchased two tickets to one of the games being played in Toronto. I ordered them through mlb.com. I believe I could have printed them right then, but my laptop is not connected to a printer. I planned on printing the tickets at work this weekend.

MLB did not send a confirmation email with a URL to access the tickets. And there is no information in my mlb.com account about ticket purchases.

When I called MLB this afternoon, someone told me to call StubHub. I have no idea why. I had gone to MLB's website, logged in with my MLB information, and paid MLB for the tickets. Naturally, StubHub had no idea what I was talking about. (It also has absolutely no information about the WBC on its website.)

I called MLB back and the second representative (while saying nothing about StubHub) said he would "escalate my issue" to management.


Why does this need to be fast-tracked to upper management in customer service?

I await their response.

(Regular readers will recall this is not the first time MLB.com has shown its inability to function competently.)

Papelbon, Lopez File For Arbitration

Jonathan Papelbon and Javier Lopez filed for arbitration on Thursday.

Ian Browne:
If the Red Sox can't reach contract agreements with Papelbon or Lopez by next week, salary arbitration figures will be exchanged between the players and the club.

Even if that ends up happening, expect the Red Sox to at least sign Papelbon and Lopez to one-year deals before arbitration is necessary.

This is Theo Epstein's seventh winter as the Red Sox's general manager, and he has never gone to arbitration.
Papelbon was paid $775,000 in 2008.

David Ortiz says if his left wrist is healthy, he will play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. ... Daisuke Matsuzaka will work out on his own in Japan and not arrive in camp until after the WBC (which ends March 23).

Mark Kotsay finalized a $1.5 million contract for 2009. It includes performance bonuses of $200,000 for 300, 350, 400, 450, and 500 plate appearances.

Theo Epstein says that if "if nothing makes sense" regarding a trade or resigning Jason Varitek, the Red Sox are prepared to go to spring training with catchers Josh Bard, Dusty Brown and George Kottaras.
We'd like to find another catcher. If we can't, we're pretty confident with what we have. We trust Josh. The other two were a pretty good platoon. We'd like to add another. But we'll see.

January 15, 2009

Red Sox Extend Youkilis: 4/40

Good lord, this is a great deal. 4/40 with a $13 club option for 2013. (Reports actually say it's not a "done deal", but there are only letters to dot and cross.)

There were early discussions of a deal back in mid-December. Then about a week later, Yook's agent made it clear that he and the Red Sox were far apart in their initial extension discussions.

It's hard to say what happened in the three weeks since that statement -- because they could not have been that far apart if they agreed in 10 per. I'm sure Teixeira signing with New York pushed the Sox to continue talking and a shitty US economy (for the near future) likely did not escape Yook's mind.

Youkilis, who turns 30 in March, may have had his career year in 2008. Maybe not. Either way, this news almost seems lop-sided in Boston's favour. And Youkilis is set for life and will likely have a solid shot at the playoffs every year of his career. Everyone is (or should be) very happy.

January 14, 2009

Vin Scully Looks Back

Vin Scully recently watched the MLB Network replay of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Mel Allen called the first half of the game and Scully, then 28, took over for the second half. Scully shares his thoughts on the broadcast here.

THT's John Beamer looks at ten rules and quirks, including "a triple play without the ball touching a fielder" or "six consecutive strike outs in an inning".

Jim Rice's career road stats: .277/.330/.459.

I just bought two tickets to the March 9 WBC game at Skydome! It's Game 4, featuring the two losing teams from the opening games: Canada/USA and Italy/Venezuela. Our seats are in the 16th row behind the plate, the same general distance from the field we have sat for Red Sox games. Woo hoo!

Excited About Smoltz

Update: Lengthy radio interview with 790 The Zone (Atlanta) this morning.


It was in early December when John Farrell, Ben Cherington and Mike Reinold went to Atlanta to watch John Smoltz throw a 50-pitch side session. It was Smoltz's second time throwing since his surgery, but he was confident.

Nick Scherer, the Director of Operations for the Georgia Tech baseball team, was catching:
I'm standing back there ready to get this warm-up pitch. Then, all of a sudden, here comes this 92 mph fastball, low and away, that doesn't touch my glove. I immediately thought, "I better get down now. He's ready to go."

He starts mixing in his slider, and I'm like, "All right, it has a nice late break and it's hard." But then he was like, "Now I'm going to throw a curveball," and he breaks off this 12-to-6 that totally fools me. And then he starts saying we're going to throw split-fingers, changeups, and a little of this and that. I'm like, "Good Lord Smoltzy, you're ready to pitch, aren't you?!"
Reading this melted about a foot of snow from my winter mind. The potential upside of this signing is ridiculously exciting.


The Alex Cora Era has ended. Einstein has signed with the Mets.

January 13, 2009

Smoltz Says He's Ahead Of Schedule

In a press conference today (transcript) to officially announce his signing with the Red Sox, John Smoltz showed off his #29 and said he was happy:
Words can't describe -- and I hope you don't expect me to say all the right words, because this has been an incredible week -- but I'm going to try to. What you get is a guy who loves to put on the uniform and loves to compete. I'm excited to be here.

This city is surrounded by a ton of history and a ton of players and a ton of fans. I'm as determined and I'm as focused as I have ever been. ... To speak to how loyal I am, you must know, I am a Lions fan. So that speaks to my loyalty. I'm going to be pretty loyal to this uniform.
The contract is for a guaranteed $5 million with a possible $5 million in bonuses.

Smoltz said he's "miles ahead" of schedule in his rehab and believes he could be in the starting rotation by Opening Day. Theo Epstein says the Red Sox will hold him back a bit.
[We want to] put him in a position to get back to 100% and dominate at the most important times of year. For us that works backwards from October, the stretch run, and the second half of the season. ... We're going to slow it down with the big picture in mind and focus on strengthening for now ...

Our doctors described him as a physical freak who has already overcome more than most and this is just another example. ... [W]e want to have a dominant John Smoltz and we think we're going to have a pretty effective pitcher for most of the season.
Smoltz agreed:
They're going to make sure that I'm ready to not only pitch, but pitch strong down the stretch and into the playoffs because that's what I like to do.
Tom Glavine, Massachusetts native and teammate of Smoltz's for 16 seasons:
As his friend I'm happy for him. As a potential member of the Braves I'll be sad not to have him in the clubhouse with me. I understand the business side of baseball. I know it's going to be fun for him playing in Boston. I'm envious that he'll be playing in Boston and I never got to play in Boston.
Fun, meaningless fact: Smoltz has pitched five games in Fenway Park (dating back to 1997). In 20.2 innings, he has allowed no earned runs.


Atlanta has signed Derek Lowe to a 4/60 contract.

January 12, 2009

Rice Elected To Hall Of Fame

Jim Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame today by the BBWAA. He was listed on 412 ballots (76.4%), seven more than the minimum necessary. It was Rice's 15th and final chance at being elected by the BBWAA.

Unlike most Red Sox fans, I never cared very much if Rice was in the Hall or not. From what I've read over the years, his performance did not seem to warrant election, and most of the pro-Rice arguments tended to be more subjective and less fact-based. That is irrelevant now.

Rickey Henderson was also elected, with 511 (94.8%).

January 11, 2009

Red Sox/Yankees: Win Value

There will be no shortage of comparisons of the Red Sox and Yankees rosters this spring.

Here's the first one, courtesy of Paul SF:
YFSF has a study based on the new FanGraphs stat Win Values comparing the 2008 payrolls of the Red Sox and Yankees, and how much value for their money the two teams received.
Looking at each teams' main players in 2008:

the Red Sox received $159.3 million of value for $90.7 million

the Yankees received $89.8 million of value for $138 million

January 9, 2009

Woman Finds 139-Year-Old Baseball Card

Fresno Bee, December 31, 2008:
Bernice Gallego sat down one day this summer, as she does pretty much every day, and began listing items on eBay.

She dug into a box and pulled out a baseball card. She stopped for a moment and admired the picture. "Red Stocking B.B. Club of Cincinnati," the card read, under a sepia tone photo of 10 men with their socks pulled up to their knees. The card itself was dirty and wrinkled in a few places.

It was definitely old, Gallego thought. ... She did what she does with most items: Took a picture, wrote a description and put it up for auction. She put a $10 price tag on it, deciding against $15 because it would have cost her an extra 20 cents.
The card was produced in 1869 -- 139 years ago -- and features the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional team in baseball history.

The story was also posted to Deadspin and Yahoo's Big League Stew (thanks to reader Richard C).

Is Roster Complete?

With Mark Kotsay has agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million plus incentives (pending a physical), the 2009 roster is nearly complete.
 C: Bard
1B: Youkilis
2B: Pedroia
SS: Lowrie
3B: Lowell
LF: Bay
CF: Ellsbury
RF: Drew
DH: Ortiz
Bench: Kottaras, Baldelli, Lugo, Kotsay

SP: Lester, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, #5

RP: Aardsma, Delcarmen, Masterson, Okajima,
Papelbon, Ramirez, Lopez
Note: Penny and Buchholz will fight for the #5 spot (with Smoltz waiting in the wings), the return of Varitek could bump Kottaras back to Pawtucket, and there could be a spring scramble for the final bullpen spot (Littleton?).

It's great having several guys who can play various positions: LBJ, Yook, Lowrie, Kotsay, Baldelli.

January 8, 2009

Baldelli Will Wear #5

Rocco Baldelli is now a member of the Boston Red Sox. He will wear #5, last worn by Nomar Garciaparra in July 2004.

Ian Browne, redsox.com:
Baldelli will earn a base salary of $500,000, but there are several performance incentives, many of which are built around plate appearances. For example, that salary doubles if Baldelli winds up making 350 plate appearances, which is certainly conceivable.
Browne also reports that John Smoltz has signed an offer sheet from the Red Sox, "worth a base salary of $5.5 million but including incentives that could bring the total package up to $10 million". Here is a SoSH link to a story on Smoltz's surgery.

The Red Sox may also be working to bring Mark Kotsay back to the bench.

Theo Epstein says the Red Sox have not shut the door on Jason Varitek:
There's still some unfinished business. Jason is still out there. ... And also, in the pursuit of a younger catcher. ... We have the two young guys who combined to form a pretty good platoon last year at Pawtucket in George Kottaras and Dusty Brown. And we brought in Josh Bard on a one-year deal ...

[Accepting arbitration is] always the player's decision. ... Certainly it was something we were hoping he would have accepted and then he would have been back under those terms. It's behind us now and we'll see what happens next.
Tom Tippett (of Diamond Mind Baseball fame) has been hired by the Red Sox as a director of baseball information services.

January 7, 2009

Red Sox Close To Deals With Baldelli, Smoltz

The Red Sox are close to finalizing a one-year contract with Rocco Baldelli. The deal is expected to be announced at Thursday night's Boston's baseball writers awards banquet.

And the Globe reports that Boston is
trying to hash out an agreement with veteran free-agent right-hander John Smoltz, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. Smoltz, 41, would likely not be able to play until late May ...

As of last night, sources indicated that Smoltz was leaning toward Boston's offer which was said to be somewhere in the vicinity of $5.5 million guaranteed with the opportunity to earn a few million in incentives which could hike the salary up to $10 million. The Sox and Smoltz have been talking since before the Winter Meetings.
Peter Gammons on Teixeira, the Red Sox and the Yankees, and Manny, Boras, and the AL East. Old Hickory sees the 2009 standings as: Yankees, Red Sox, Rays.

Teixeira Hearts Twisted Sister

So [Brian Cashman] did a bit of research, discovered Teixeira had a fondness for Twisted Sister ... Sure, it helped that the Yankees eventually offered $180 million over eight years, but what really wowed Teixeira was the super cool video Cashman revealed when he came to visit in the middle of December.

Shot in the new stadium, with digitalized images of what Teixeira might look like as he ran out of the dugout and onto the grass, the crowd at a froth, the New York skyline in the distance, the sound track blared "I Wanna Rock." Cashman pressed play.

"Hey, that's my song!" Cashman recalled Teixeira saying as he and I walked through the old stadium hallways. "I was like, yeah, we know that."

And at that point, with Twisted Sister on blast, Leigh, Teixeira's college sweetheart who is now his wife, said, "I want you to be a Yankee."
Two weeks before Christmas, I talked to [my wife] Leigh about it again, and we kind of decided that, hey, the Yankees are where we want to be. Cash might want to give Leigh a hug, because when I asked her during the process, "Where should I go, where should I go?," she'd always say, "I just want you to be happy." Finally she said, "I want you to be a Yankee," and it was a done deal. Once we got the contract figured out, it was a no-brainer for me.
If Teixeira is telling the truth, then he made his mind to sign with New York one week before perpetrating the charade of his interest in the Red Sox and summoning the Boston brass (John Henry, Theo Epstein, et al.) to Texas -- which was Thursday, December 18.

So the fucker apparently wants us to believe that a Twisted Sister video was the clincher. He's coming across like A-Rod Jr. ... In the words of Fat Billy, what a dushbag.

January 4, 2009

Bard Excited About Return To Fenway

Josh Bard feels "there's a little unfinished business" regarding his Red Sox career. He says his experiences in 2006
made me grow up in a hurry. It's easy to hide in the shadows and go along and collect a paycheck. This was kind of the first time I was in the spotlight ...

Looking back in hindsight, they've told me they regret that move. There's never been a second of hard feelings from my end. ... I look forward to getting back into this fight. You find out what you're made of, playing at Fenway Park, playing in games that matter.
How many games he'll play in 2009 remains unknown. Bard could be the starter or he could be a back-up (possible to a returning Jason Varitek).
A lot of people have asked me, family and friends out here, "Are you nervous about going back or is it going to be scary to go back and catch Wakefield?" My response has always been that scary is not going back and catching Wakefield.

Scary is when I got traded to the Padres and didn't play for 13 days and was sitting on the bench and not knowing if I was going to get called into the office that night [and sent to the minors].
Also: Amalie Benjamin talks about Brad Penny with Rick Honeycutt (Dodgers pitching coach), Dave Jauss (former Dodgers bench coach), and the Dumbest Idiot To Ever Walk The Earth™.

January 2, 2009

Interviews: Reddick and Youkilis

Sox1Fan is posting his three-part interview with Red Sox outfield prospect Josh Reddick (stats). Here are parts one and two. Check back for the final segment.

About a month ago, readers of The Bottom Line submitted questions for Kevin Youkilis. His answers are here.