Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.

Posted by Dave on Saturday, May 22, 2004

Locking Up Cookie Monster

Watching the Celtics the past couple years has been an absolute nightmare. Sure, they've played horribly, but that's not what incenses me. Players are only capable of playing so well and coaches are only capable of coaching so well - ultimately, the general manager is responsible for putting a good team on the floor. Danny Ainge, in my opinion, has made awful decision after terrible decision since he signed on with the Celtics. First we trade Antoine Walker, a good (but not great, as the Celtics wanted him to be) supporting player for a bunch of deadweight cap room (Raef LaFrentz), who we'll have for longer than Antoine (a far better player) for more money. Then, he allows Jim O'Brien, a veritable miracle-worker, to take leave. Then, he "acquires" Chucky Atkins - a player inexplicably making 4.5 million/year for the next two years - burning more of our precious cap room. A series of awful decisions that will doom the Celtics next year and for years to come.

What's so infuriating about it is that it all could have been avoided with some shrewd (or, in Ainge's case, non-idiotic) decision-making. Fans, and people, I suppose, always have the desire to blame the people most directly causing the outcome. So, it's natural to call LaFrentz a "sally" for not playing injured or to not call Pierce elite because he can't "make his teammates better." All the naysayers should be looking to a smug Danny Ainge who claims to have a master plan. Trust me, any master plan including Raef LaFrentz at center is horribly misguided one (just ask the Mavericks, who dumped his contract on us).

Why all this talk about the Celtics? Because all the hatred that I have for Ainge is diametric to the love I have for Theo Epstein, the GM of the Red Sox. Since he filled the small shoes left by Dan Duquette, Theo's been nearly infallible (save the endorsement of the closer-by-committee). He has acquired Bill Mueller, David Ortiz, Pokey Reese, Keith Foulke, Curt Schilling, Lenny DiNardo, and resigned Trot Nixon to a more than reasonable contract extension. More importantly, however, Epstein has refused to pony up the money necessary to keep aging free agents Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, and Nomar Garciaparra. These players are 30, 32, 32, and 30 years old respectively, and peak seasons genereally occur around 27 or 28. So, these players are at least 2 years in decline with V-Tek and Pedro already 4 years into their expected decline.

Theo made yet another brilliant move today in signing David Ortiz. C is for Cookie, and at 11.75 million over the next two years, that's certainly good enough for me. The Sox also have a club option for the third year. The Sox can choose to release Cookie Monster at an additional cost of $750,000 or can keep him for 7.75 million, under the agreement.

Why is this move so brilliant? First and foremost, Ortiz is the youngest of the prospective free agents at 28. From this we can infer that Ortiz has at least 2 near-peak seasons left in him before he starts his decline. Thus, the Sox are more likely to be getting a good return on their investment in Ortiz because he is more likely (than the four aforementioned) to continue to produce as we've become accustomed to.

In addition, Theo managed to acquire Ortiz cheaply. Looking at last year's RC/27 (Runs Created per 27 outs), 9 David Ortizes would have produced approximately 7.69 runs a game. Just perusing the list, one can see that there are many below him that make significantly more than six million a year (Magglio, Abreu, Sexson, and Sosa all make far more).

Even this year, David's no slouch. He ranks 69th with a RC/27 of 6.23. Again, many below him are making far more than he is - Sheffield, Konerko, Carlos Lee, even his teammate Johnny Damon. The Cookie Monster has shown the ability to hit and the Red Sox paid him relatively little money to do it for them. Kudos to Theo on yet another fine move.

A Moment of Elation

My softball team took home the gold on Wednesday, winning the IM Softball League at Bates College. We led 9-8 going into the last-ups for the opposing team and we held them scoreless to win the title. I'm the tall kid goofily smiling with the glorious Twins hat on in the back. Towering over my teammates, one can see how I've drawn comparisons to Richie Sexson. We finished the year 5-0-1. That's right, we tied a game. We had to end play because another game needed to occur and we had already played one extra inning. I can faintly hear Tom Hanks exclaiming: "There's no tying in baseball!"

A Moment of Silence

Through Sabernomics I learned that Doug Pappas, the man who pens the "Business of Baseball Blog" to your left, has passed away. It's so strange feeling sorrow for someone I never knew really, but I enjoyed his work at the BoBB and the blogging community will miss him dearly.

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