Thursday, November 16, 2006

Daisuke Matsuzaka or How I Didn't Learn Anything About Anything

Does anyone else feel dirty? If 10 percent of that money we spent to talk to Gyromite/ Mite-y Mouse/ Dangermouse/ DM (see how it all comes back around?) fell out of the plane that, in this analogy, carries the cash from here to Japan, and landed in some country where people don't have the luxury of food to see where I'm going.

Besides that, I know it's this great business move to capture some of the Japanese market. Supposedly, anyway. Some say it isn't. But I feel like every team should have a chance at it. And I'd hope that there's some underground movement among the Japanese, where people are spreading the word to go against the rich American teams: "The Royals are where it's at! So they don't have any Japanese stars, so what! They would if they could!"

And the fact that this money I'm talking about is just "talkin' money" is ridiculous. So I guess we have two different debates here. This one, and the one where you put all that aside, and just pretend like it's an equal playing field, which we all know isn't truet. But I ain't to proud to debate. The second thing.

So, all that aside (sorry Joy of Sox), it's still a risk. We know this. We also know that we don't have the guy yet. But if we do get him, of course I'll be happy about getting the Japanese community involved in Red Sox baseball. Not because "we" will get "their" dollars, but because I, you know, like diversity. And if something like this is what it takes for some folks to realize the joys of being a Sox fan, even if only a small percentage end up lifers, that's a good thing.

And of course I'll be excited to see him pitch, and, as a bonus, it would be for our side.

And I loooove that we got a guy the Yanks could've got. A guy that would've fit their exact needs. I'd love it if he shows them what a huge mistake they made.

I still can envision a scenario, though, where he's like 6-6 with a 4.17 ERA, and not only are normal people pissed, but the wingnuts are complaining about how they can't get seats because of these people who don't look like them, and the American reporters are complaining they don't have the access they used to. In other words, a bad scene, man.

We will see what happens. No, I wouldn't rather have Barry Zito. I hate Barry Zito. I'd rather have April Zito (elementary scool friend of my sister). I just can't help be weary of this move. And I don't know how much that stems from any of what I said above, about fairness and all that crap. Because I know the guy is amazing. A talented guy, a superstar, in his prime. But Josh Beckett seemed like a sure thing. And he wasn't. I have full confidence Josh gets back to how he was before this year, though. And if Robitussin DM does live up to the hype, It's World Series '07 for us.

The main thing is that we get better as a team. If the "business side" gets in the way of that, we're all gonna be pissed. We know the FO wants to make the future bright. That's good. Assuming the future comes. It's another worry of mine putting such a huge chunk of "future" money into one guy. Aren't we trying to get rid of big contracts? Thoughts getting garbled and incomplete. Must move on to JD Drew.

I seriously think leaving Nixon in right field instead of giving all this money to Drew makes sense. I mean, if this is my other option, I'll take Trot. Drew would do a little better, sure. But they're essentially the same guy, only one tries hard, and is already loved by us and wants to play here. You know who'd I'd take over JD Drew? Wily Mo Pena!

Remember when you had one dude at each position for what seemed like forever? And if they had a bad year, oh well, that's your guy? Yeah, I'm changing the subject. But, yeah, getting rid of Trot now, to me, would have been like getting rid of Dwight Evans after the 1980 season. You don't just get rid of your guy. I know I'm in a fantasy land. So what? Just a better way to have a team. Maybe teach kids some loyalty. Hey! That's why kids today prefer to just get it on with whoever, because their role models are also switching teams like crazy. I have to write a report on this! I just figured out society! (Also, I just never liked JD Drew in general.)

This is why baseball in Cuba is better. You don't leave your team. You wouldn't even think about it.

Oh, and another thing. As long as we're spending like a Steinbrenner in a baseball player store, and talking about shaking up the outfield, can we please stop dickin' around and just get Vernon Wells already?

I'm with you on Vernon Wells. I heard he wants to stay with the Jays but I would LOVE to see him in a Red Sox uniform in 07.
Oh, and another thing. As long as we're spending like a Steinbrenner in a baseball player store, and talking about shaking up the outfield, can we please stop dickin' around and just get Vernon Wells already?

Amen. that'd be awesome. It'd take a lot in trade though, which is tough, and I bet Ricciardi wouldn't trade him to us.

After that, he's almost flat out admitted he plans to sign in Texas because he grew up in Arlington and Michael Young's one of his good friends (or something). Talk about someone you DEFINITELY pony up the dough for.

As for Drew- it's a lot of money, yea, but Trot's not the answer anymore. He can't stay on the field, and he's never been nearly as good as Drew. Plus, to me- he looked cooked at the end of last year. I guess we'll see. Should be interesting. I'd be absolutely shocked if Trot was still here next year though.

Also, my girlfriend loves Barry Zito. I'm relatively ambivalent- he seems like a cool guy though- how come you hate him? Just curious...
I've been wanting Vernon for a long time. I know it won't ever happen simply because of this.

I've got to figure that the Sox wouldn't be willing to slap 51 mil down and sign Matsuzaka if they weren't pretty sure about how the additional revenues would make up for it. If they don't sign him, they get their money back.
Slugging Percentage :

JD Drew .498
Trot Nixon .394

Nixon hit .174/.274/.256 in the second half.

That is a huge difference - not to mention the fact that Drew has stayed healthier and is two years younger.

I don't like the idea of trading Manny though. Manny/Crisp or Pena/Drew OF is light years ahead of last year.
Did you feel dirty when Dan Duquette signed Manny to a $130mm contract? Or when the Duke gave the cash-strapped Montreal Expos two prospects for the best pitcher in baseball, and then gave Pedro a $90mm contract?

Sure, $51.1mm is an enormous amount of money, particularly just for the right to try to sign a player, but don't you think all those massive ugrades and improvements to Fenway over the past 4 years cost well in excess of that?

And didn't Haywood Sullivan get rid of everybody EXCEPT Dwight Evans after the 1980 season? Lynn, Fisk, Burleson, about blowing up a team. Ok, they kept Rice too.

I assume the Cuba comments were tongue in cheek...leaving that team involves sneaking out in the dead of night on a raft, El Duque-Style.
AJM: Cuba comment NOT tongue-in-cheek! Cuba baseball is WAY better than our baseball. I have blogged about this topic before.

Okay, '80 was a bad example, but, yeah, that was one of my earliest memories--my mom being shocked that Fisk wouldn't be on the team any more. Then Reggie to the Angels. It was weird and I wish they'd go back to the old way somehow.

The Manny contract--it was like our one big signing, which I could always deal with. (Surely you've noticed how every year we've tried to make that contract go away?) But this is more than that, it's saying, "We have rights to this entire country," which seems messed-up to me.

STJ: I'm not arguing numbers about Trot vs. Drew. But if you went by the best numbers, you'd have a different player every year at every position.

WCSG: I'm sure that's true about them getting money in return, etc--although it is debatable, since a lot of the money they'd make in Japan gets divided among all teams. But, my point is, if the guy stinks, are you, (you personally who wants the Sox to do everything they can to win as I've learned) gonna say "Oh, it's all right, we're making a lot of money."? You can to a point, but are you gonna want to go to Fenway in late September if they're in third place again?

BS: About Zito, just what you said before--seems to not be good when it counts, vs. Yankees, when I watch him, basically ever AND he's just so, so, so, well, I can't support the "cute" guy. And also what you said about him pitching at Fenway. Wouldn't work.
//This is why baseball in Cuba is better. You don't leave your team. You wouldn't even think about it.//

Baseball might be better in Cuba, but generally speaking, life isn't.

Since we're getting all civic-minded. :-)

I think the money is a digusting amount in the real world...but baseball doesn't operate in the real world. So in their world, I'm happy to have a front office that wants to make something happen.

Count me, though, among the few who was pissed when Duquette gave Manny that contract just because Mussina screwed the Sox. Mind you, I couldn't be happier about it now.
I've never lived in Cuba and I'm guessing you haven't either. But I do know that the people there are given free health care, and they make sure all the children get an education. If you live a material life, which we Americans are brought up with, yeah, you might be better off here, provided you have money and you don't say the word "terrorism" in public, attempt to speak out against your government, or god forbid, aren't a white male with citizenship.

But regardless of that, the way they play ball down there is exactly what we all dream of up here. The players are just regular people so they don't become prima donnas, and you're loyal to the area where you're from, and they love their teams, and the players play hard. I'd love to go to Cuba and see a game under the palm trees with an icy non-alcholic tropical drink in my hand.
37 million people in the US live in poverty. Everyone in this debate can say that life is okay here because we all can afford computers, were educated enough to learn to read and write to some degree. Plenty of people right here in this country have none of those luxuries.
And don't forget that Lynn and Fisk weren't jettisoned for any good reason- Sullivan, et al didn't tender them their contracts before the deadline. It was basically a clerical error, and Fisk and Lynn said, "Screw this, we're outta here." Typical of the FO at that time.
But even after that, you had your Evans, your Rice, (I'll stop saying "your" before each guy at this point), Gedman, Barrett, Hurst, Clemens, Stanley, all who were just always there. I miss that. I can name each major league team of the 80s, because it was mainly the same people on each year after year.
Great back 'n forth dialogue...but with each passing minute on this warm Friday late morning, it looks more and more that Drew will be patrolling that sacred Fenway rightfield. And WMP...hopefully gone to Houston as part of a package for Lidge...or anyone!

It's starting...

And FWIW, there's no chance in hell WMP alone would get us Brad Lidge. It's much more likely in that trade discussion that we end up with Qualls or Wheeler.

In fact, I read the other day that the Astros and Rockies are talking about Jason Jennings for Brad Lidge. The Rockies have a thing for Coco, so possibly that's an avenue to get Lidge.

I actually don't think they plan on trading any one of Ramirez/ Crisp/ Pena if they sgn Drew. I think with Drew's injury history and Manny's knee issues, they may view WMP as a perfect contingency plan, as well as 4th OF that can play all three OF positions. But who knows. That'd be my preference at least.

As long as Trot's not back.

Jere, I get your longing for days when players didn't move around as much, but it's gone and it ain't coming back. I guess I've just gotten used to it, and found value in following the offseason maneuvering. Six of one, half dozen of the other to me.
Didn't Fred Lynn end up playing for four different teams in the 80's? Didn't Bruce Hurst leave Boston for San Diego when he became a free agent? Wasn't Rice forced into early retirement by the Sox the moment his bat speed dipped? The only guy mentioned by Jere in his last comment who spent his entire career with the Sox was Stanley, and for his loyalty, poor Steamer is reviled by a too-large number of Sox fans who ignore/forget what a good pitcher he was for them over a long period of time. Significant player movement has always occured in baseball. It has accelerated since the advent of free agency, but don't think that it's greater today than it was in the 80's.
It hasn't stopped me from liking baseball. But even in this age, I still think it can be a good thing to stick with a player rather than trying to get an inch better, only to realize it didn't work out, and then you need to replace that player, and so on.

Some EEI guy said if they get Drew, Wily Mo would be gone. I agree that they don't need to, and I think there'd be a good chance they keep him.
Rice WAS on the Sox his whole career, 16 years. Evans: 19 out of 20 years. Gedman: 10.5 of 12 ish years. Barrett: 82-90 with Sox, 12 games elsewhere. Clemens: 13 years.
Well, if you like players staying on one team for a very long period of time so much, I guess there's still a team in the Bronx for you to root for. Jeter, Rivera, Posada, and Bernie will all log well over a decade in pinstripes, and it's almost a lock that none of them will ever play an inning for another team.

Sorry, couldn't resist. But they do lock up the guys they really like forever.
Because they can afford to keep Bernie on the payroll. If any other team is in that spot going into last season, they absolutely have to let Bernie go. All those guys, had they been on the Marlins, would've easily gone elsewhere right when their first contract is up.

Also, my 11:47 comment was in response to BSM's, before I saw AJM's next one.

And also, AJM, I think players did stick around longer in the 80s, but before that, there was a lot less movement than today.
I still think it can be a good thing to stick with a player rather than trying to get an inch better, only to realize it didn't work out, and then you need to replace that player, and so on.

You're creating a hypothetical that supports your idea. Of course this is true.

I'd rather the GM do what's best for the team in long and short run. If that's keep a tenured guy, then fine- but only because he's the best option. If it means discarding him to get better, then do that. Obviously when doing this you don't have the foresight of "...only to realize it didn't work out."

Put it this way- if it made the team significantly better, I'd trade Davod Ortiz in a cocaine heartbeat. Upgrading on Ortiz would be pretty tough, obviously (though it'd be nice to have some roster flexibility at the DH spot), but I hope the Red Sox don't keep him around after he's effective because he's someone we all love.
Who shot who in the what now? It's not hypothetical, it happens all the time.

It just goes back to my point about how they're human beings, not just stats. If they did get someone to replace Ortiz right now who had the exact same stats but with one stat one percentage point higher, there'd be outrage coming from everybody. But the replacing over and over is more like with second base and shortstop, currently. It just seems like if we'd kept one guy all along at either position, maybe we'd be better off in many ways. I mean, you always want to improve, but unless you can lock up a superstar at at a position, why keep tinkering with it?
Who shot who in the what now? It's not hypothetical, it happens all the time.

It is hypothetical- you said "I still think it can be a good thing to stick with a player rather than trying to get an inch better, only to realize it didn't work out, and then you need to replace that player, and so on." That's a hypothetical example you're presenting where replacing a player WOULD be bad. Obviously. You're presenting it a decision as having a determined outcome, which it obviously can't. It seems like you're saying it's something that comes hand in hand with replacing the hometown guy (or at least that's how it read).

But the idea when you enter into replacing a player is to get better- ideally you get this player that is more suited to your team for any number of reasons in the interest of getting better. Sometimes, it doesn't work out (your hypothetical being one such example). That is the risk in player acquisitions. It's the nature of the beast. The remedy, however, is not paying 9 guys and standing pat on them all for their careers.

I mean, you always want to improve, but unless you can lock up a superstar at at a position, why keep tinkering with it?

To get better. I don't get what you're saying here- you'd rather they didn't try to continually get better? In tinkering, you may make a poor decision. But it's a decision to improve.

If they did get someone to replace Ortiz right now who had the exact same stats but with one stat one percentage point higher, there'd be outrage coming from everybody.

Well right, because there would be no point in trying to upgrade on someone who is "one percentage point" or whatever better. This, again, is a kind of hyperbole in hypothetical that supports your argument. It's not the scenario I'm talking about, and I don't think it's something that anyone would ever do.

You improve by getting a player that is demonstrably better. If we're trading David Ortiz to get someone essentally the same player (what you've described), there's no point, and you'd be right.

What I'm saying is, I'm simply in the interest of team improvement, even if it means improving on someone like David Ortiz, who I use as an example becuse of his popularity. I'd still do it.
What I'm saying is, I don't think we'd have been any worse if we had just kept the same second baseman for the last few years. Maybe a Todd Walker with job security becomes Superman. There are benefits to having some semblance of stead that help the team overall that might not reflect in the stats. Besides, having the team as a whole is better than having the best stats at every position, I think.
Maybe a Todd Walker with job security becomes Superman.

Todd Walker's had job security. He's been a starter and he is what he is- decent player, terrible fielder.

But even if this is true- couldn't the opposite be true? What if you gve him this job security, and it makes him put too much pressure on himself? What if you give him job security, and it makes him lazy?

Then you're wasting your time playing players you can upgrade on to see if they turn into Superman with job security. There's never been an historical correlation, either between long term contracts and better play, either. Pretty sure Bill James did a study on this or something similar in an old Abstract.

The most efficient way to get a great team is to get the best players you can. Winning makes everyone buddies, and even if they're not, it doesn't always matter. There are tons of teams that won consistently while hating each other. THose 80s Sox teams weren't real fond of one another.

There are benefits to having some semblance of stead that help the team overall that might not reflect in the stats.

Stats are a reflection of what's happened on the field. If something is of a benefit, then it shows up statistically, because it makes the team better- even if it's better showerheads in the locker room.

The idea that a set roster makes for a better team is total guesswork. The opposite could just as easily be true. That's why, again- you constantly progress to making your team better.

Look at the Seattle Mariners. 2001- most wins in AL history. Gillick does nothing, and in no time, the team is an overpaid, aging mess and he gets fired. Any benefit to that set team mentality stops when you're not improving your team.
But I never said do it with the whole team. But what if players sticking around longer meant fans becoming more attached to the team, going to more games, spending more money, giving team more to get better players with? Stuff like that. I think it should all be considered.
I guess I just disagree- I think fans respond to winning, pretty clearly, and not seeing Player X in place every year. The Red Sox are a perfect example of that.
It's a nice thing, but do you think Astros fans would trade Craig Biggio for a Series championship? I do. I'd have a hard time relating to a fan that didn't.

I'm not saying tinkering is the de facto way to go- if the guy you have is perfectly capable, there's no reason to play with a good thing.

But your examples (or the relevant ones) of 2B and Trot are pretty clear- we need improvement. We needed improvement over Walker and got it in Bellhorn. We didn't need improvement over Bellhorn into 2005, but then he was so bad that we did, so we got Graffanino. We had an opportunity to upgrade over Graffanino, and so we did with Loretta. This season we have a guy that can definitely improve the defense, give at worst the same production as Loretta (poor as it was) and cost the league minimum. So that's why we have Pedroia.

Trot Nixon isn't a very good player anymore, and is a near guarantee to break down heavily every year. He's a serious drain on the roster, there's a clearly better player available, we have the money, so... you improve.

I don't see the downside here.
//I've never lived in Cuba and I'm guessing you haven't either.//

True. But I know people who risked their lives to get the hell out of there, free health care or not.
From my mom, who had trouble posting:

Under the Bastista regime pre-Castro, there was a 75% infant mortality rate; child prostitution was flourishing--pretty little girls just "disappeared" from the street; kids didn't attend school because there were no schools (except private Catholic schools for the eliete: the junkets from the US to the sex shows left NY daily, (we're talking prop planes in those days); the hospital in Havana had a dirt floor... ah, I could go on and on. Castro is not Gandhi but then he had to make do under a US embargo--not even humanitarian efforts allowed in. If there hadn't been an embargo, if we'd used diplomacy, there'd probably be a major league team out of Cuba. But god forbid Republican politicians lose the Cuban-American vote, also known as the fascist-American vote. But didn't I say I could go on and on? I think that's supposed to mean I won't.
Oops--one more thing a la beisbol. Having a morale-booster like Trot in the clubhouse perhaps improves everyone else's statistics in an incalculable way.
"Castro is not Gandhi"

Understatement of the day. Castro has jailed dissidents for years, and continues to refuse to allow Amnesty International and other human rights groups into the country.

And again, towards the point of Cuban players's because Castro won't let they defect like Contreras and the Hernadez brothers.
And how many Amnesty International folks and human rights groups have gotten into Gitmo?
I still have friends who defected during Viet Nam--their kids are Canadians.
We have to go out and have a couple of beers, AJM, and work this out.
AI did a report on US detention centers. And here's what Bush said about it:

"'It seemed like (Amnesty) based some of their decisions on the word and allegations by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people had been trained in some instances to disassemble (sic) -- that means not tell the truth'', Bush went on. ''And so it was an absurd report. It just is''."

Mom, I have friends who defected during the current war. See Joy of and We Move To
From wikipedia:

Human rights
Main article: Human rights in Cuba
The Cuban government has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials, and extra-judicial executions.[8] Dissidents complain of harassment and torture.[9] While the Cuban Government placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 2001, it made an exception for perpetrators of an armed hijacking 2 years later. Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued reports on Cuban prisoners of conscience.[10] The Cuban government denies the International Committee of the Red Cross access to its prisons and many human rights groups including Amnesty International are denied entry to Cuba.


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