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Tony Mazz's Sox Math

POSTED:

Of course, we thought the same thing when Bay came up for discussion. As it turned out, the Sox dug in their heels on protective language in the event Bay had any injuries to his knees, a stance that ultimately blew up the deal and led to the Sox acquiring, among others, Mike Cameron, Jeremy Hermida and Adrian Beltre for roughly $20 million, about $5 million more than they would have paid Bay this season under the terms of a four-year, $60 million contract. In case you're wondering, the Sox could have had Bay, Beltre and John Lackey for about $4-$5 million more than they are projected to pay now. [Link]

Non-baseball fans, feel free to ignore this post, but it's almost spring training time, and… As a Red Sox fan, Tony Massarotti is starting to drive me crazy. He seems like a nice guy, but he's fixated on the idea that the Sox should buy big bats in free agency, and in order to make that point he keeps saying stuff that isn't really true. His thing last year was this idea that the Red Sox could have signed Mark Teixeira by being more "aggressive," when it's fairly obvious that Teixeira was never going to sign with Boston — New York outbid them by $10 million and would have raised the pot even more if Boston had called. And Teixeira and his wife didn't want to live in Boston anyway.

Every sportswriter in the country seems to understand this, but Massarotti keeps writing up the Teixeira episode of an example of the Red Sox being cheap and using bad negotiating tactics. My favorite was this idea that the deal might have gotten done if they had given Teixeira and his agent, Scott Boras, a "short window" to accept their offer. Every baseball writer in the country knows there is no such thing as giving Scott Boras a short window to accept a contract offer.

Shit, Scott Boras drags out negotiations even when there's no competition for his player's services. Look at him now, still "demanding" a two-year deal for Johnny Damon when the poor sap is like a week away from Spring Training and doesn't even have a one-year deal from anyone in his pocket. The only way to sign a Scott Boras client is to commit to months and months of excruciating pain and rancor. Signing a Scott Boras client is like talking your parents into giving you a puppy — you have to beg for months on end, constantly, in between meals, from the back seat of the car on road trips, before going to bed at night, in front of their friends at dinner parties, you have to work on them through your grandparents, leave books about dog-rearing around the house, do all your chores early for like a full year, etc. etc.

Do all that, maybe that one day comes when Dad says, "Okay, I'll think about it." That's what signing Mark Teixeira, Matt Holliday or any of these Boras clients is like. The idea that Boras would have coughed up Teixeira last winter because Theo Epstein pulled a "Take it or leave it!" act in November, particularly when he had the first baseman-less Yankees out there, is just… I mean, it's crazy. Boras would have interpreted a gesture like that as an invitation to begin negotiations.

Anyway, Mazz has been on that theme for a year, and now he's on to riding the Sox for not re-signing Jason Bay. I too was disappointed to see Bay go, and I'm not sure about the wisdom of signing Mike Cameron in his place. But Mazz's math is bizarre. Again, he notes that they acquired Mike Cameron, Jeremy Hermida and Adrian Beltre for roughly $20 million, about $5 million more than they would have paid Bay this season under the terms of a four-year, $60 million contract. In case you're wondering, the Sox could have had Bay, Beltre and John Lackey for about $4-$5 million more than they are projected to pay now.

Wouldn't it be nice if the only thing that mattered in contract negotiations is how much the players cost in the upcoming year? Doing the math that way, it does sort of work out. On Planet Mazz, the Sox could have had Bay, Beltre and Lackey in 2010 for about $40.5 million, as opposed to the roughly $36.6 million they're currently spending on Cameron, Beltre, Lackey, and Hermida.

Which makes sense. Except in the Mazz scenario, the actual cost for all those players over the life of their contracts would look like this: $60 million for Bay (he ultimately signed for $66, but let's just say Mazz is right, and the Sox could have had him for $60 had they pulled the trigger on an extension over the summer) $82.5 million for Lackey, and $14 million for Beltre.

So the total cost of signing Adrian Beltre, Jason Bay and John Lackey would at minimum have been about $156 million. What they spent instead, total, for Lackey, Beltre, Hermida and Cameron was about $115 million, or about $40 million less. Add in the fact that Beltre is severely unlikely to exercise his 2011 option and the overall total is about $45 million less. Add in the fact that Bay ultimately got $66 million from the Mets, and maybe the Sox spent $51 million less on the current package than they would have on Team Mazz.

I'm sure the Red Sox (or most any other team, for that matter) had absolutely no problem paying big money for Jason Bay in 2010. It's not that they were afraid to pay the extra $3-4 million this year. What they were afraid to pay big money for was the 2013 Jason Bay, an aging DH who can't hit a breaking ball.  Mazz must know this, right?

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Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He’s the author of five books and a winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Please direct all media requests to taibbimedia@yahoo.com.

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