Simply- A Red Sox Win

While I was quick to criticize the Red Sox earlier this week for their haphazard negotiating style with regards to Daisuke Matsuzaka, I will also just as promptly commend their signing of said player, and all but retract my comments from the other day.

Why the sudden turn around you ask? Well, first and foremost, this is East Coast Bias, so it is my right, nay- my duty- to exude such haste and flip-flopping. However, for practical reasons as well as RSN loyalty, I must admit one simple, clear truth...

The Red Sox called Scott Boras' bluff.

While everyone here was bemoaning the complete lack of urgency we all felt Mrs. Henry, Lucchino, and Epstein were expressing, the simple truth is, they were in the driver's seat. They did not panic because, simply, they did not have to.

Credit Larry Lucchino for this one. Here's why:

Back when the bidding for Matsuzaka took place and before the Red Sox knew they were going to sign him, Larry took a little trip to Japan to observe, first hand, the "lay of the land".

The Red Sox have left no stone unturned in this negotiation, and Larry's trip overseas was the first step toward, what they knew, was inevitable- Daisuke was coming. Now, Lucchino did not go overseas simply because it was what any MLB team official would do in following due diligence with such an investment. He went with a simple goal in mind outside of the general, "what's Matsuzaka worth?"

What the Red Sox did on that trip to the Far East was determine officially what was suspected by some (and feared in the end by Scott Boras- Matsuzaka's agent).

Daisuke simply couldn't go back.

It was simply capitalism at its best. And Scott Boras was beaten at his own game. The Seibu Lions wanted the Red Sox' money and not the player. In hindsight, it is funny how everyone thought the Red Sox overspent on the bid. But quite prophetically, they knew this was a $100 million dollar deal no matter how it was sliced. (I wonder, if the wining bid had been lower, would they have traded the difference in salary and still equal a 100 million dollar deal?) What the Red Sox did with Boras this time that others have not was simply control the card game. Here's the "Quickie-style" order of events that led to the signing:
  • They "overpaid" ($51.1 million) on the bid to ensure the exclusive negotiating position with Matsuzaka
  • They made a prompt offer which they knew Boras would decline.
  • They waited.
  • And waited.
  • And waited some more.
  • Then Boras cracked.
  • He met with the media.
  • The Red Sox then knew it was time to make a trip to California, uninvited of course.
  • They made a second offer with 2 days to go without a counteroffer from Boras on the first. Most thought this was strange, but they did it proactively because
  • They low-balled the second offer too! $8 million for 6 years.
  • Then on Tuesday they imposed a deadline of Wednesday mid-day, when John Henry's plane was taking off to return to Boston. Everyone thought they were crazy given that they had until midnight Thursday to strike a deal.
  • That's where Boras lost because all he had was a pair of Deuces to the Sox' Full House.
Daisuke could not go back, the Red Sox made the clock tick, and Boras had to, gasp, give in. It was as simple as that. And all because Larry Lucchino and the Sox did their homework better than Scott Boras. No one truly suspected the Red Sox would not land the pitcher. It was simply a matter of how much it would cost. Simply a matter of who would blink first. Simply a matter of the Red Sox having a game plan and sticking to it. Simply genius.

Welcome to Boston Mr. Matsuzaka.


Best. NHL. Line. Ever?

You gotta try this.

It let's you pick the NHL's top 4 forward lines (Left Wing, Center, Right Wing) of all time out of a pool of 50 forwards. So cool. Makes you appreciate the talent level that has been maintained over the decades in the NHL. Being a HUGE hockey fan- I grew up playing and I play to this day- it was very hard for me to only make 4 top lines with the players given. But I narrowed my criteria down to several eligibility factors:

  • Was the player dominant in his era?
  • Did the player have a linemate that made him a better player? Call it the "Glenn Anderson Rule". (No, not the "Jari Kurri Rule"- Jari was great his entire career, even without Gretz.)
    • If yes, then is that player among the Top 50 listed?
      • If yes, then you need to keep at least 2 of those on the line together.
  • The player needs to play a position he played frequently- i.e., a Center has to be chosen at Center, but if he played Wing extensively too (eg., Sergei Federov) he can be chosen at either position. But Wingers are simply Wingers (i.e., LW and RW are interchangeable).
  • The final category is simply my feeling, knowing the background/reputation of most of the players pretty well, I leave tiebreakers up to my overall subjectivity- call it the "Going with Your Gut" Rule. Heck, this is East Coast Bias, after all.
So, all that being said and without further adieu, my top 4 lines of all time are (in order of LW, C, RW):

Line 1: Kurri, Gretzsky, Howe
Line 2: Bossy, Lemieux, Messier
Line 3: LaFleur, Yzerman, Jagr
Line 4: Richard, Dionne, Clarke

"Honorable Mention Line": Bobby Hull, Federov, Brett Hull.
Explanation- I couldn't pick 1 Hull without including the other among the Top 4 lines- it would have been a disservice to both. And Federov in his prime defined the transition to European hockey in the NHL. There is no better representative of the early 1990's NHL (but Kurri gets the international player nod in the Top 4 lines).


UPDATE: Red Sox Flying High?

Strange how my blog post ridiculing Red Sox management came about and then within an hour reports came out the Sox brass were on John Henry's plane headed back to Boston... with Matsuzaka and Boras on board.

Apparently a deal has been struck, in principle, and they are headed to Beantown for a physical. The parameters and final wording is being/has been (if the flight has landed) worked out in route.

Now, while I do not think I had any part in this turn of events, I would reason that my POV was prbably the overriding theme among RSN and maybe our combined kinetic energy shifted the aggregate brain cramping of the involved parties long enough to produce a positive result.

OK, I'm stretching, but it was a cool coincidence.

I just had to say it...

The Red Sox are the joke of MLB.

And I say that as a faithful member of Red Sox Nation.

Here's what I don't get about the Red Sox:
Apparently they are offering 6 years @ $8 mil per. Boras wants $11 mil per.

The 6 years is agreed upon.

Everyone and their mother (RS Nation, Gammons, Olney, et al.) knew when the bid went to the Red Sox that this would be a $100 mil plus endeavor. And in fact, it's been pretty much known from Day 1 the price tag for Matsuzaka would be at least $10 mil per year.

Heck, the Sox coughed $10 mil a season up to Beckett- who by the way would be the #3 man (by skill, not by pay) in the rotation behind Schilling and Daisuke.

Right now, at a $3 mil per year gap between the RS and Boras, the Sox can split the difference (i.e., add $1.5 mil per year) and still be under the market for this kid at $9.5 mil per year long-term for 6 years.

That makes the deal $108,111,111.11 if you include the bid price. When you are talking Monopoly money like this, does a difference of $9 mil (the $51.1 mil bid + the Sox' $8 mil x 6yrs offer) really make or break this negotiation?

The Red Sox brass has become a laughing stock, and that 2004 World Series looks more and more like a fluke than sound planning based on their ongoing ineptitude since. Not re-signing Pedro, the Clemens begging/groveling, the Arroyo trade, no trades at last year's deadline, even the Beckett/Lowell trade- really what have they done right in the last 3 years? (Other than extending Big papi's contract.)