The quasi-deadline for the Red Sox to stop shopping Manny Ramirez came and went last night. Not surprisingly, the team was unable to find fair value for the slugger. It looks as though he will remain on the Red Sox. Hopefully that means he'll actually be playing for us. If not, breach of contract and he's gone for $0.
You know, I think most Sox fans will forgive Manny. Some probably don't even notice when he's asking for a trade and when he isn't. This is not the first time he's asked for a trade, and last season was not the first time he embroiled himself in controversy. Writers and die hard fans may grumble about Manny Being Manny, but the grumbling typically stops when he knocks in a run, which happens quite a bit.
DIFFICULTIES WITH BORAS AND CLIENT
Every season, Scott Boras is in the news for some new outrage. Okay, "outrage" is probably a bit too harsh of a word. Anyway, after having put up $51.1 million for the exclusive rights to talk to Matsuzaka, Scott Boras is doing his best to make sure his client gets paid as well.
It's easy to criticize Boras here. He's demanding that the Sox pay somewhere around $12 million a season for 6 years. That's $72 million total. That's a great deal of money to add to the $51.1M posting fee for a pitcher who has thrown 0 pitches in MLB.
Of course, Boras is seeing that the team is willing to pay about $100 million on Matsuzaka, but his client (and his commission) represents only half of that. The Seibu Lions are the ones cleaning up if the deal gets done. This is yet another problem with the posting system.
The problem is, every other top free agent is getting paid off. All the deals being announced across baseball are over the top. Furthermore, the demand for pitchers is absolutely massive. Boras is using this, comparing any proposed deal between us and Matsuzaka with deals given to other MLB Aces.
The problem is, Matsuzaka is not an MLB Ace. To sign him to a 6 year deal is a bit ridiculous. As talented as he is, we have no idea how he'll do against MLB hitters, or whether or not he'll have trouble accustomizing himself in America.
The Sox don't have as much leverage as you'd think in this one, either. Although if Matsuzaka doesn't sign with us, he can't sign with anyone else this season, he is an unrestricted free agent in two years. Then he can sign with any team in MLB he wants to. Also, he is likely to get paid more seeing as how no massive posting fee will be involved.
I'd like to see the Red Sox come to some sort of compromise on Matsuzaka. I know $123 million is a massive amount to pay for a single player. However, we really do need a frontline starting pitcher. Beckett and Clement were busts, Schilling is another year older, Lester is coming off cancer treatment, and God knows what we'll get out of Papelbon as a starter.
The fact of the matter is, we're desperate. But it isn't the end of the world if we don't sign him. It's important to remember that.
The Red Sox now have slightly less than one week to sign Matsuzaka before he is sent back to Japan along with his $51.1 million posting fee.
LESTER ON COMEBACK TRAIL
A recent CT scan that Lester underwent showed no cancer cells. Lester's been undergoing chemotherapy during the off-season after he was diagnosed with blood cancer. The good news is that it appears to be working well. Lester plans to report early for Spring Training next February.
Really puts some perspective on things like trying to sign a Japanese pitcher or trying to trade a left-fielder.
SOX PURSUIT OF GAGNE SLOWING DOWN
The Red Sox had been pursuing Dodgers closer Eric Gagne. However, the word is that the Sox are hesitant to give Gagne the kind of guaranteed money he is seeking. Gagne is coming off of back injuries and is seeking something like $5 million.
Another possible option at closer is no longer available. The Royals signed Octavio Dotel to a one year, $5 million deal. He too is coming off of injury. Dotel had Tommy John surgery in '05 and the Sox were reluctant to guarantee him so much money considering his injury trouble.
Two things this stuff brings to my mind. How come we were willing to invest $70 million in J.D. Drew who has spent an impressive amount of time on the DL, but we're now all of a sudden scared to get a closer who might break down? I guess with Drew, he can be substituted easily, and if he misses time, his absence won't be catastrophic. But closer's, on the other hand, can have stints on the DL that cost a team a playoff berth.
Another thing that comes to mind is crappy teams like the Royals spending massive amounts on their budgets on things like closers when:
1. They often do not have a lead.
2. Their mid-relief gives up a great deal of leads.
3. Their starting pitching rarely goes 7 innings.
It seems like bad teams who spend lots on closers like Dotel could better spend that money elsewhere. I always felt that a good closer is something a team needs if it is leading a great deal of games in the late innings. Otherwise, it is a waste of money.
Anyway, the Sox also offered arbitration to Keith Foulke, who turned it down. The Sox want/need a closer, but Foulke doesn't seem to want to pitch here anymore.
In practice this week, observers of drills reported that Laurence Maroney ran through a number of deals somewhat cautiously. He is still ailing from the back injury he received in Sunday's 28-21 win over Detroit. He is listed as Questionable (50% likely to play) and even if he does play, will probably not play as much as the Pats would hope.
This is where the two running back system is a huge benefit. Even though we're without a top playmaker in Maroney, we still have Corey Dillon, who isn't a bad running back himself (over 11,000 career yards on the ground after Sunday's performance). We also have Patrick Pass, Heath Evans, and Kevin Faulk in support. We won't be as dynamic without Maroney, but our running game will hardly be absent.
In other Patriots news, Tom Brady is suing Yahoo! for using his image without permission in an ad to promote their fantasy football.
BRUINS RALLY FOR ANOTHER WIN
The Bruins were down 1-0 about halfway through the 3rd period when they scored 3 unanswered goals to beat the Maple Leafs. We remain in 5th in the Northeast Division, but we're now only 1 point behind Ottawa and Toronto. Toronto is slipping and we may pass them soon. We also have played fewer games than any other team in the division, so that's an advantage for us.
In the Conference, we're tied for 10th with Washington, only 1 point out of the playoffs.
This could be exciting coming down the stretch with the unbalanced schedule and all 5 Northeast Division teams in the top 10 in the Conference.