Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on March 18, 2009
It's not exactly brand new news, but I do not want to deprive you of this interesting tidbit. And speaking of tidbits, you are right to expect something out of the bottomless treasure chest that is Jason Stark, although this piece of information actually has to be credited to his reader Neil Baumgarten:
MANNY'S OLD CONTRACT: Two years, $40 million computes to a present-day value of $39.05 million, Baumgarten estimates.
-- Present-day value after taxes: $19.52 million.
-- Present-day value after the commission to his previous agent: $17.96 million.
• MANNY'S NEW CONTRACT: Two years, $45 million -- but with $25 million of that $45 million deferred at 0 percent interest. So the present-day value would be $41.1 million.
-- Present-day value after taxes: $20.57 million.
-- Present-day value after the commission to Scott Boras: $18.92 million.
• SO THE DIFFERENCE IS: Just under a million bucks, basically -- or $961,064, to be exact -- is all Manny really got out of this. That's the real difference between the money he'll earn in this contract versus the dollars he could have had under his old contract.
Meanwhile, assuming Boras gets a 4 percent commission, he'll take in $1.8 million -- or possibly $1.65 million, if it's paid out over five years in exactly the same proportion as Manny's deal.
Even if Boras gets taxed at 50 percent on his take, he'll still wind up profiting from this negotiation at almost the same level that his client will -- if only because he would have gotten zero dollars if Manny had honored his previous contract.
I wonder if Manny thought about it that way and if he would be too happy with Boras if he did.
A little off-topic, but all that reminded me of a chapter of the book Freakonomics, where they talk about real estate agents. While intuition tells you that your agent's interest shoud correspond with your own in that the agent should try to sell your house at the highest possible price, the agent's interest is actually to sell it as quickly as possible, because an extra $10.000 for you is like a loss for you agent if it delays the finding of a buyer by more than a few days since the agent gains very little from the $10.000, but looses a lot of time looking for a buyer who is willing to pay more.
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on March 17, 2009
Atlanta's third baseman Chipper Jones strained his oblique muscle during batting practice before the game against the Netherlands. He blames the WBC schedule and says changes are necessary.
“There’s some serious problems with the WBC setup,” said Jones, who will skip the rest of the tournament. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. But I wouldn’t do it again under the current format. There’s way too many days off. This tournament could be over by now.”
“Just way too many days off,” he said. “We stayed in Toronto for a week and played three games. I don’t know if you ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement.
“You’re not getting the work in that you should. You’re getting reps, but you’re not getting the at-bats that you need.
“Getting to share a clubhouse with the guys and getting to know people on a different level is the cool part about it. But when you’re talking about a three-week tournament, and you could literally play eight games in three weeks, it’s just too much down time for spring training.”
Maybe the WBC would gain from a tougher schedule. Especially the seeding games seem unnecessary and with all the spring training games going on in the meantime, the off days really take away from the excitement in my opinion.
“I took about 20 swings in batting practice and hit a ball about 450 feet to right-center field, and I felt it,” he said. “I stuck my thumb in it just to try and loosen it up a little bit and [hitting coach] Reggie Smith saw me and came up to me and said, ‘Don’t mess around with that thing. If you feel it, get out of there.’ “
After two more swings, Jones took his advice. After being examined in Miami, he decided to pull the plug and return to Braves camp. (emphasis mine
This is what really caught my eye when I read the article. It probably does not mean much, but Chipper still did take a couple of swings before he stopped even though his coach told him to stop. After all, he could have aggravated the injury doing so. I wonder how many serious injuries could have been avoided if the players listened to their coaches more instead of playing hard. Then again, the player still has the best sense for his body and sometimes you just have to play through the pain. But I wonder if players get any instructions on which pain they should take especially serious?
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on March 15, 2009
ESPN has a few outtakes from an interview with Torii Hunter that did not make the magazine:
KM: Are your children taking after you athletically?
TH: Definitely. My son Darius is 14, and he's ranked in the country in the high jump, 200 and 100. My other boys are playing baseball, and they work hard, man. But it isn't the same, because they've got that damn PlayStation. They stay in the house and play all day. When I was a kid, we always went outside and made up games. We put tape on a concrete wall and pitched a tennis ball to a hitter in front of the wall. We called the game Strike Out. I didn't go to football or baseball camps. I developed my skills in the streets, baby.
KM: You've won eight Gold Gloves. But do you remember your worst play?
TH: I was in Detroit, and Magglio Ordóñez hit the ball high to centerfield. I knew I had it, so I tried to be smooth and catch it all sweet, and it went over my head. Here I am, a Gold Glove centerfielder, looking around for the ball as the guy's circling the bases. I actually put that glove in the microwave for 20 minutes and let it burn because I didn't want to blame myself.
KM: After you make a mistake, do you ever think, Please hit the next one to leftfield?
TH: There's one day I'll never forget. Back when Mike Mussina was on the Orioles, he was a doctor. He cut everyone up. I was on the Twins, and Mussina had 15 K's that day, including one against me. There were two outs in the ninth, and David Ortiz was up. I was in the hole, rooting for Ortiz to strike out, thinking, Throw the curveball. He can't hit it! Ortiz struck out, and I jumped up and down, and David looked at me like, What the hell are you doing, T?
That Torii Hunter is quite a character. If this are the outtakes, I wonder what has made it into the magazine?
I was a bit sceptical when the Angels signed Hunter (and five years may still turn out to be too much), but if you believe clubhouse chemistry is important, I doubt that you can find someone better than Hunter.
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on March 15, 2009
As much as I enjoyed all the upsets so far and as much as I am looking forward to watch the USA - Netherlands game, yesterday's 1-11 mercy rule loss to Puerto Rico painfully exposed why the World Baseball Classic will never grow into anything close to what the FIFA World Cup is today. From Foxsports' Gerry Fraley:
Team USA fell behind 6-0 after two innings as Puerto Rico pounded righthander Jake Peavy. Manager Davey Johnson handled Peavy as if this were just another morning "B'' game on a back diamond in spring training.
Peavy, like most starters, operates on an every-fifth-day format during spring training. Because the irregular WBC schedule would not allow that, Peavy was scheduled to build arm strength with two full-scale throwing sessions after his start on March 7 against Canada.
When Peavy became ill while in Toronto, one of the throwing sessions was scrubbed. To compensate, Johnson determined Peavy would throw a set number of pitches no matter how he fared.
Because of that, the 11-man bullpen never stirred as Peavy took a beating. He could not get the ball down, and the Puerto Rican hitters clubbed him. Eight of the 15 hitters that Peavy faced reached base. He had a swing-and-miss on only two of his 57 pitches.
"Just let him get a little more work," Johnson said in explaining why he stayed with Peavy. "Unfortunately, it wasn't really good work, but he needed the work. It wasn't a thing of `Hook him in the second inning.'"
This illustrates a problem with the WBC.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wants his brainchild to be viewed as a top-tier international competition along the lines of the Olympics. For at least Team USA, that is not the case.
To get pitchers, Team USA promises major-league teams that it will keep them on their regular plan of preparing for the regular season. In this case, that mean having Peavy throw 57 pitches, no matter how bad they were.
For Johnson, preparing Peavy took precedence over playing to win. That national pride stuff is a slick marketing slogan.
At least San Diego, Peavy's team, will be happy.
"I take full responsibility," Peavy said. "There was no excuse for the way I performed. This is a double-elimination tournament, and I hope the boys pick me up so I can go out there one more time."
Johnson has been rather casual about the tournament. He skipped Friday's workout and arrived late for this game to attend a family member's wedding across the state in St. Petersburg.
As long as the arguably best team in the world will not play to win (or has to leave his best players with their teams), the WBC never be anything more than a exhibition tournament.
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 14, 2009
Jonathan Papelbon gave his opinion on Manny Ramirez in an interview for Esquire magazine, calling his former teammate a “cancer.” Mark Newman wrote a piece for MLB.com basically begging Red Sox fans to get over the Dreadlocked One. Some highlights:
Instead of tipping their caps -- as so many once did after Carlton Fisk bolted for Chicago in switching his 27 to 72 -- some Red Sox fans are continuing to delight in trashing Ramirez, focusing mainly on his "work ethic" while playing for Boston.
None of his teammates was Cal Ripken Jr., but it's not even necessary to go there. The bottom line is: Manny came and they won. Period.
Many people are responsible for the turnaround of Red Sox Nation fortunes in this decade, but none moreso than Manny. Trashing him now just sounds comically bizarre.
In fact, his No. 24 jersey should be retired at Fenway one day. That is how wrong the perspective is, completely and amazingly wrong.
If you dare to interject an opinion as an "outsider" who is not technically part of Red Sox Nation, then you are told that, "You just don't get it." On the contrary, it is time for many Sox fans to hear an outside perspective on how it looks when The Nation is bashing a guy who came and led them to a promised land awaited by generations.
Yes, Ramirez helped lead the Red Sox to two World Series championships. Yes, he was absolutely instrumental in helping break the Curse of the Bambino. But so were players like David Ortiz and Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. To credit Ramirez to the point of carte blanche for his actions is going a little too far.
Ramirez repeatedly gave up on his team. Before he was dealt, he took MRIs on both knees, both of which came back clean. But Ramirez still didn’t play. If he really were injured, could he have had that second half with Los Angeles? Absolutely not.
There are countless times when Ramirez failed to run out groundballs, once getting clocked at 5.8 seconds to first in 2008. By comparison, the average time to first is about 4.2 seconds, while 3.7 seconds is Ichiro-fast.
If the Red Sox were really such “winners” with Ramirez on board, why not continue holding on to him? It’s GM Theo Epstein’s prerogative to place the best team on the field, and he realized having Ramirez out there (or actually not out there) wasn’t doing it.
Red Sox fans don’t need to forgive. Ramirez needs to apologize.
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on March 14, 2009
Rob Neyer lets us know that the new Fielding Bible by John Dewan is out. He goes on to cite 29 of the 44 defensive misplays by Brewer's second baseman Richie Weeks listed in the book. Rob then comes up with a bold suggestion:
The Brewers currently have a first baseman (Prince Fielder) who can't play first base, a second baseman (Weeks) who can't play second base, a left fielder (Ryan Braun) who probably shouldn't play left field, and an extra young shortstop (Alcides Escobar) who should have an everyday job soon.
Problems? No! Opportunities! I suppose it's too late in the spring to trade Fielder and move Braun to first base and find a new left fielder, but eventually all these things are going to have to find their natural balance, and the Brewers will be better off if management takes an active role in that process.
I don't know about that. I remember Patrick Sullivan and Rich Lederer of The Baseball Analysts saying that Braun, much like Soriano, actually turned from a very bad infielder into an decent outfielder. Furthermore, the Brewers don't have such a strong offense that they can affort to loose Fielder if they want to go anywhere this season. They would need to get an impact pitcher (whom the Brewers need) for Fielder and I'm not seeing that.
Back to Richie Weeks. His hitting talent which scout's see in him has yet to realize itself on the field, so trading him would mean selling low, but the way he butchers balls at second is indeed alarming. If you want to move him to the outfield, why not center field? That position is currently occupied by Mike Cameron and there are some teams out there that could use a center fielder, like one certain team from NYC. They even have a pitcher to spare, so why not go there? With A-Rod out, the Yankees might be more inclined to go after Cameron than they were earlier this off-season.