Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Baseball's General Managers Meet. Red Sox Win Negotiating Rights to Matsuzaka.

And speaking of pitchers, moments ago, as the annual General Managers meetings got underway, it was announced that the Red Sox emerged with the winning bid to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yahoo News AP wire story:

NAPLES, Fla. - The Boston Red emerged Tuesday night as winners of the bidding for Daisuke Matsuzaka with a $51.1 million offer and have 30 days to sign the Japanese pitcher to a contract.

The Seibu Lions of Japan's Pacific League announced they had accepted the high bid for their prized pitcher, and the major league commissioner's office simultaneously confirmed at the general managers' meetings that the Red Sox had made the offer.

"Matsuzaka has a real talent. He would be a great fit with the Red Sox organization." Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "We're excited to have won this part of the process. We're hopeful we can reach an agreement." Even before the announcement, general managers had assumed Boston would be the highest bidder in the blind process.

"We'll congratulate the winner and move on," New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday afternoon.

Matsuzaka is represented by Scott Boras, who last year negotiated the deal that moved center fielder Johnny Damon from the Red Sox to the Yankees. "Pitching, as usual, is at a premium," Boras said.

Warning! Scott Boras is a tool! I hope that Matsuzaka does not turn out to be the next Hideki Irabu. The Yankees ate that mistake. Matsuzaka is younger than Irabu was, and is in much better shape (George Steinbrenner once called Irabu a "fat toad"). Still, 51.1 million dollars is a lot of damned money to spend JUST TO TALK TO THE GUY AND HIS AGENT! Christ, it would have cost less money to have kept Johnny Damon last year, or Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe the year before! All were key members of the 2004 WORLD SERIES CHAMPION RED SOX! But no. The Sox went cheap, let those guys walk, and they and their new teams, the hated Yankees, Mets and Dodgers all made the post-season in 2006. Do I seem bitter about this? All right. I'm bitter. Let's just move on...

Agents roamed the lobby at the hotel where GMs are meeting, discussing their free-agent clients. Some agents think the market will move more quickly this offseason because of the decision by management and the players' association to eliminate the Dec. 7 deadline for free agents to re-sign with their former teams unless they were offered salary arbitration.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya said some teams are unsure of where the marketplace is going, "so if they could do something quick, they're going to try to do it."

Mike Mussina's agent, Arn Tellem, kept up talks with the Yankees on a new contract for the pitcher that likely will be worth $23 million to $25 million over two years. "We're in the red zone," Tellem said.

With Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt heading a weak free-agent class, pitchers will get top prices.

"There are 30 clubs and probably three-quarters are looking for pitching," new Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "There's a lot of interesting pitchers out there. At the end of the year, the teams that have pitching, and healthy pitching, are usually the ones that are around."

GMs, as usual, will hold their annual discussion Wednesday of whether to have instant replay available to umpires, a concept commissioner Bud Selig opposes. In the past, the idea hasn't garnered enough support. "I guess we'll get a sense of that tomorrow," said Joe Garagiola Jr., a senior vice president in the commissioner's office.


There will also be talk Wednesday of whether to eliminate tie games, having them instead become suspended games. On Thursday, the GMs will discuss whether to have uniform standards for storing baseballs, a talk prompted by the use of a humidor by the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

As for the postseason schedule, nothing seems to have come of the idea floated by Selig to give wild-card teams fewer home games in the playoffs. "That is not officially on the agenda, so I suspect that will be some good lobby talk," Garagiola said.

Christ Bud, are you like, an imbecile? YOU were part of the nightmare that is the wild-card, and now you want to make things tougher on these teams? Have you been taking leadership lessons from Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy? Why not just make the wild-card players throw with the opposite arm and hit with only one hand on the bat while you're at it...

GMs did vote on one rule change, proposing that outright assignments to the minor leagues not count against the number of optional assignments a team has on a player. That must be approved by owners and the union.

I buy that. Outright assignments are usually one-way tickets back to Triple-A, but on occasion, the clubs monkey with the rules. Case in point: 1987. Ellis Burks is tearing up spring training. He is the last player cut. He spends three weeks in Pawtucket, and gets called up to the Red Sox, where he put together a 20-homer, 27-steal rookie season in just 133 games. The Sox did that to keep him on their books an extra season. If he'd made the team from the beginning, as he clearly should have, he'd have been eligible for free agency at the end of the 1991 season instead of the 1992 season. Maybe if the Sox had been forced to define the type of option under which to place Burks, they'd have given the decision more thought.

Anyway, we'll see what develops as these meetings go forward.

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