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.
Welcome to Boston Mr. Matsuzaka.