Enter The False Sandman? Billy Says, “No”.

Billy Wagner is not coming to Boston. According to Ken Rosenthal, the flame-throwing lefty has invoked his no-trade clause because the Red Sox would not promise to not offer him arbitration at the end of the season. He was also reportedly concerned about how his arm would hold up during a tough two-month play-off push.

While the image of a despairing Eric Gagne is fresh on Sox fans' minds, and many feel that Wagner was Gagne II, my feeling is that Wagner would have provided positive value and helped them down the stretch. That's not a small thing when you consider how close the race is. So count this Yanks fan among the happy that Billy is staying put. I'd rather the Yanks face Texas than Boston anytime during the post-season.  

113 comments… add one

  • yeah, that’s a bummer – he would have been a great addition to the bullpen. Sounds like there would have been some personality clashes however.

    dw (sf) August 25, 2009, 8:43 am
  • Ya, Paps comments aside, and even though Gagne was a huge bust, anytime you get an extra bullpen arm for what would essentially be free, I think you do it..

    Lar August 25, 2009, 9:31 am
  • “I’d rather the Yanks face Texas than Boston anytime during the post-season.”
    No way. I want Yankees vs Sox in the ALCS.

    krueg reincarnate August 25, 2009, 10:01 am
  • i’m not sure why the sox wouldn’t go for it…if there’s a need now for a guy like wagner, isn’t 2 months better than nothing?…unless the speculation was that the mets would want too much for a short term rental…

    dc August 25, 2009, 11:06 am
  • The Globe has a great quote from Wagner: “I’m too old to set up,” Wagner said.
    I get what he means, but that also just about sums up why I’m not bothered by the Sox’s failure to acquire him.

    stuck working August 25, 2009, 11:16 am
  • DC – it’s not the mets, they’d move him just to save $$. It’s Wagner, he has a full no trade, and is worried a) that he’ll get used to much and hurt his arm (huh?!?) b) that his option will get picked up C) he won’t be attractive to teams because of type “A” free agent. d) he doesn’t want to be a set up guy e) he’s lost his sense of reality.

    dw (sf) August 25, 2009, 11:18 am
  • Are Sox fans rooting for either team in the Yankees/Rangers series, or wishing for both teams to get swept?
    Is rooting for the Yankees ever an option?

    Yankee Fan In Boston August 25, 2009, 11:30 am
  • You forgot f) he’s not dying to join a bullpen that clearly doesn’t want him and has said so in the press.
    In Wagner’s defense on point “a”, if Boston were getting him as a 2-month rental during a playoff push with no stake in his future career after those 2 months, it is not unreasonable for him to be concerned about the workload he’d be asked to carry during those two months – esp. coming off a serious injury as he is.

    IronHorse August 25, 2009, 11:35 am
  • IH – Papelbon is a blowhard.
    anyway – it would be in the sox best interest to keep him healthy, and use him wisely. Although I don’t blame him for worry, but if he wasn’t 100%, why come back?
    I hope the Rangers and Rays both lose, at this point, to whom doesn’t matter!

    dw (sf) August 25, 2009, 11:39 am
  • Wagner just lost a year, he’s old, he’s rehabbing, and he’s a trained closer. He has little time left in MLB, so he can do one of two things, either of which is utterly defensible: he can waive his NTC to play for a team that has a shot at winning this year and perhaps risk his health and earning power, or he can hold tight and get stronger, play for next year and the shot at being a closer for another team. Wagner guarding his own health is completely understandable, if he is worried that he will be thrown into a situation for which his arm is not ready.
    Part of me always wonders what it means to have the option to play for a potential winner. When you go your entire career without a championship, what does it mean to have to choose to take an opportunity to play for a winner at the risk of your health and future? I suppose that playing for another two or three years (and the attendant chances of winning during those two or three years) may be worth more than a longish-shot a Series title.

    SF August 25, 2009, 11:53 am
  • As an aside, I don’t think there are too many Sox fans who really like Papelbon. He’s been entertaining at times (I mean, who doesn’t like it when their players put on beer-case helmets and dance around after playoff wins?), but for the most part it seems like we are all in agreement on this guy, that he’s unfiltered to a fault, possibly just plain stupid.
    Is he selfish? I am not sure. He did accept a move to the rotation before being returned to the bullpen, so I am inclined to think he wasn’t originally selfish. But he’s getting very close to free agency, and after seeing what guys like Wagner, K-Rod, and Mo have taken home (and based on his past successes why shouldn’t he expect to be compensated like an elite?), he probably should be a little selfish.
    As for me, I have very little sentimental regard for Papelbon. He’s one of those guys who isn’t funny enough as an interview to get away with the stupidity.

    SF August 25, 2009, 12:00 pm
  • While I understand to some extent his health concerns as a rationale for staying, I don’t get why the actual decision was tied to an arbitration offer. This is already what the Mets are expected to do, after also declining his option. So what’s the difference between having that happen in New York versus Boston? I mean, besides the fact that in one place he’ll get real work and a playoff race, and in the other place he won’t.

    FenSheaParkway August 25, 2009, 12:05 pm
  • well, thanks for the explanation, i think…seems that maybe this worked out best for boston…i mean do they really want a guy who is more worried about getting hurt than winning?…he’d be so tentative, he might hold back and not give his best stuff…i’m looking at it as more of an opportunity he’s giving up, than taking a risk…

    dc August 25, 2009, 12:14 pm
  • I don’t get why the actual decision was tied to an arbitration offer.
    The Sox would be very likely to offer arbitration – they can afford if he accepts it (and if they decide that they want to offload Paps mid-season if he becomes intractable), and they can also afford the signing bonuses for the picks if he rejects it.
    The Mets are likely to neither pick up the option (they are shedding payroll) nor offer arbitration – they would be very unhappy if Wagner accepted and were stuck with a $10M setup guy with no trade leverage. And if they offer and he declines and they get the picks, they have to then sign the picks. Or they could not sign the picks and then get compensation in 2011, a long ways off.
    Seems to me like the best-case scenario for Wagner to gain his freedom is to either make the demands he did of the Sox or stay in NYC and see what the Mets do, which is a likely jettisoning.

    SF August 25, 2009, 12:17 pm
  • Not dead yet…
    http://is.gd/2yb7L

    LocklandSF August 25, 2009, 12:55 pm
  • If I am the Sox and I want Wagner, I tell Wagner that we will drop the arbitration and the option and I tell the Mets that they will do that but only if Sox are given $1M towards the Wagner buyout plus a TBD % of Wagner’s remaining salary hassle tax (or not). See how bad the Mets want him off their books.
    Wagner gets what he wants.
    The Sox get what they want, cheaper.
    The Mets are rid of the Wagner burden but are still on the hook for the $1M buyout and a little more (which burden would be far more if they keep him based on the remaining salary and buyout).

    SF August 25, 2009, 1:05 pm
  • > and he’s a trained closer
    That reads funny, like he’s a carrier pigeon or a blue tick heeler (healer?). I think that bringing Wagner to the Boston party would work out badly for every party involved, and leaving politics out, Wagner’s smart move is to wait it out.

    attackgerbil August 25, 2009, 1:15 pm
  • anyway – it would be in the sox best interest to keep him healthy, and use him wisely.
    Two words: Keith Foulke. Wagner should be worried about his health, because if he’s pitching well and we absolutely need him in the playoffs, we would overuse him in a heartbeat without concern for his long-term health.
    I’m thinking of the long-term implications of this. It’s becoming more and more clear that Papelbon is not going to be the Red Sox closer for too much longer–his contract is up at the end of the season, right? Depending on how Wagner does this season they can use him in 2010 as the closer, with Daniel Bard as setup-man and heir to the throne.

    Atheose August 25, 2009, 1:23 pm
  • According to WEEI, Newsday’s David Lenin (sp?) has Twittered that the Wager to Red Sox deal is about to go through.
    I’d check myself by I cannot seem to find the correct spelling for Lenin or Lennon or whatever.

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:24 pm
  • Wagner.
    Can’t spell lately.

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:25 pm
  • How would it look for Wagner to turn down the possibility of pitching in a pennant race?
    I would argue half of Wagner’s value to the Red Sox is the draft picks he would net. The other half is his availability in the postseason, should there be one for the Sox.
    Six minutes.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:26 pm
  • Looks like Wags will be a member of the 2009 Red Sox after all…

    John - YF August 25, 2009, 1:28 pm
  • Found the tweet: http://twitter.com/lenno212
    Heyman also said to be reporting the same thing.

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:28 pm
  • Newsday and the Globe both report a Wagner deal looks likely.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:28 pm
  • Here’s the Heyman tweet:
    http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:30 pm
  • SI:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/08/25/wagner.redsox/index.html
    “Billy Wagner appears now to be on the verge of accepting a trade to the Red Sox, SI.com has learned.”

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:30 pm
  • “Wagner had intended not to waive his no-trade clause, according to people close to him, but the Mets made a last-ditch effort to change his mind. The Mets would like to unload the $2 million-plus left on his contract, while Boston would like to enhance its playoff chances.”
    I really think acquiring Wagner would have negligible effects on the rest of the Sox’ season. The postseason, on the other hand, is a different beast.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:34 pm
  • From the Globe:
    1:31 p.m. update: A major league source told the Globe’s Tony Massarotti that the Red Sox and Mets have agreed in principle on a deal that would bring Wagner to Boston for two players to be named later. The Red Sox will not pick up Wagner’s $8 million option for 2010 but will retain the right to offer Wagner arbitration, meaning they would get two compensatory draft.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:36 pm
  • Does Wagner really make the Sox’s bullpen that much better? I would put Bard, Ramirez and Okajima in a game before him. I expect him to have marginal impact on the postseason as well. This is more about the draft picks, I think.

    AndrewYF August 25, 2009, 1:36 pm
  • Wagner is replacing the bottom man in the bullpen, which right now would be… Brad Penny? In each of the last two postseasons, the Sox have been involved in games in which they burned through their pen. While a game or two like that is relatively unimportant over the course of even the last 40 games, it’s of much greater importance in a best of five or seven series.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:39 pm
  • I’m with you, Andrew. To me, we have another pitcher who has excelled in the NL, coming off an injury, with no guarantees.
    Penny, Smoltz …

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:40 pm
  • It’s of much greater importance if you have a game like that. You could apply the same importance to a third catcher, in those long tied games where you pinch-run for both catchers.

    AndrewYF August 25, 2009, 1:42 pm
  • Arod 1-for-9 career, 3K, 1BB career vs. Wagner; Tex 3-for-5

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:43 pm
  • As an aside, I wonder if Papelbon will start to throw things at Wagner.

    AndrewYF August 25, 2009, 1:44 pm
  • Ath – Papelbon has another year under team control I believe – arbitration award notwithstanding, I can see him with the sox one more year (2010), then he’s gone.

    dw (sf) August 25, 2009, 1:46 pm
  • While I have derided Wagner, he has had success and not all that long ago. And I don’t see how this makes the Sox any WORSE, so why not do it (other than to avoid annoying some current pen-occupants)? Seems a pretty good move. As to his potential impact, I agree with Paul that if there is to be one, it would really be in the post-season, assuming he can handle that pressure. Low-risk high-potential-reward as someone else commented earlier.
    I was a little surprised by your commentary on how sfs feel about Papelbon SF, which seemed to be confirmed by the fact that no sfs here really rose up to argue differently. However much I – or other yfs – might dislike him, I would have thought that anyone seen to be an integral part of the Sox recent WS wins (and certainly Papelbon was, no?) would be sort of enshrined permanently. Unless he really did something bad a la Manny’s behavior prior to departure.

    IronHorse August 25, 2009, 1:48 pm
  • I agree it’s a good move – in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees had a claim in on him, but the Red Sox’s claim is the one that took. Unless Wagner really, really sucks for the rest of the season, he’ll be a Type A. That’s a nice haul for some nothing prospects and some cash.

    AndrewYF August 25, 2009, 1:50 pm
  • You could apply the same importance to a third catcher, in those long tied games where you pinch-run for both catchers.
    Exactly. Which is why the Sox carried three catchers during last year’s postseason, too. Though David Ross never did get in there…
    In 2008 ALCS Game 2, Tito left a clearly hurting Beckett in too long, the Sox rallied to tie it, and the game went 11 innings. Mike Timlin had a terrible year, but he was the only guy left, and the Sox lost the game and the series.
    In 2007 ALCS Game 2, Schilling left in the fifth, and the game also went 11 innings. Jon Lester had to finish up what ended up being a blowout loss because the last guys in the pen, Gagne (irony there) and Lopez, crapped the bed.
    So getting a guy like Wagner to replace a guy like Fernando Cabrera or Enrique Gonzalez for that one game — and get the two picks, to boot — strikes me as an important move.
    Assuming health and reasonable effectiveness, of course. Either way, the Sox get the picks.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:51 pm
  • “As an aside, I wonder if Papelbon will start to throw things at Wagner.”
    Just more dumb comments that weren’t filtered through his inner monologue.

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:55 pm
  • IH, I used to like Papelbon a lot, and I thought he got a raw deal in the whole All-Star Game flap in New York, but otherwise everytime he talks I just want to belt him. He has almost nothing good to say, and strikes me as a guy who’s too athletically gifted to shut up, and is too dumb to know what to say. His comments about Wagner weren’t all that bad — Wagner’s reaction was arguably worse — but he and Manny Delcarmen both should have offered platitudes about welcoming anyone who can improve the team, smiled and shut the heck up.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 1:55 pm
  • What Paul said.
    To the letter.

    I'mBillMcNeal August 25, 2009, 1:58 pm
  • Well, I’m not thrilled about this, but I agree with IH that it can’t make the Sox worse. I do have mixed feelings about the money issues here, though. Not too many teams can afford to pay $2+ million for 5-8 weeks of a reliever and while I’m glad that the team I root for happens to be one of them, it’s still not that great for the sport.
    Surprised to see the Globe describe the other players as “two mid-range minor leaguers,” but I guess it does say mid-range minor leaguers rather than prospects, so i guess they’re career minor league guys. Given how terrible the Mets’s farm teams are, even those will be useful to them.

    stuck working August 25, 2009, 2:00 pm
  • ditto on what Paul said. He (Papelbon) seems to have morphed into the “entitled” role. Not that most pro athletes haven’t, they just haven’t been as vocal about it.

    dw (sf) August 25, 2009, 2:02 pm
  • Also, no defense of Papelbon from me. The guy is a pretty unappealing meat head. Awfully good closer, though, and I won’t be excited about the Sox having to replace him. Even with Bard in the wings, that kind of thing is always a total crapshoot.

    stuck working August 25, 2009, 2:03 pm
  • yeah Stuck, but something’s going on with Papelbon- way to many walks. He said he altered his delivery this year to keep his hands higher at set position, but I noticed they were back down to the belt recently.

    dw (sf) August 25, 2009, 2:08 pm
  • Here’s my take on this, take it for what it’s worth…
    I think this waiver claim was made primarily to block the Yankees. When the Mets put Wagner on waivers I instantly thought he’d be a great fit for the Yankees. Historically he’s been better than both Coke and Marte, he throws hard and if healthy the Yankees would have a very legit L/R bridge to Mo. I think Wagner made a ton of sense for the Yankees, more so than the Sox, simply because the Yankees bullpen is less impressive overall and has more holes. So by putting in a claim the Sox prevented him from going to the Yankees, really gave up next to nothing and will most likely end up with 2 draft picks to boot. Putting in a claim was win/win. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that I am spot on with this one.

    John - YF August 25, 2009, 2:10 pm
  • Paul hit the nail on the head regarding Paps.
    He’s also made it very clear that he wants to be paid A LOT, and he’s just not worth what KRod/Mo are making. No closer is worth that much, frankly.
    I’m happy to improve our bullpen, because Bard’s ERA has been steadily climbing over the last month.

    Atheose August 25, 2009, 2:18 pm
  • Great move all around by Theo…even if Wagner stinks he kept him from the Yankees or Rays and he’ll get picks back.

    John - YF August 25, 2009, 2:18 pm
  • It keeps him from the Yankees, but not the Rays. If the Rays wanted Wagner, they could have claimed him.

    AndrewYF August 25, 2009, 2:47 pm
  • Well obviously the lefty Yankee hitters utterly demolishing Sox pitching had something to do with this trade. When Matsui is hitting 4 homeruns in three days you’ve got trouble. And Yankee Stadium with that lefty-heavy lineup in a short series but without reliable southpaws is a brutal possibility.
    Remember, the Sox aren’t guaranteed to get two picks. First, Wagner has to decline. He made $10.5 million this year. He’s guaranteed in arbitration no more than a 20% decline in salary or…a little over $8 million. More likely, he could get $10 million in arbitration. Unless he thinks he can get $20 million on the free agent market I don’t see how he’d pass that up. Second, he actually has to sign with another team. Who’s going to sign him for that kind of big closer money? Every team with the money also already has a closer. And who would want a old guy on a multiyear deal just back from TJ surgery?
    All that tells me the Sox know the organization is thin in top-tier prospects and that they know now is the time to move Papelbonehead if they have any hope of improving for 2010. Their offense is aging quickly and there’s little available on the market or on the farm. Paps is the guy, perhaps packaged with other pitching, to try and use to bring back some offense under 30 years old. Wagner then becomes the one-year bridge to giving Bard the full-time role. Wagner is expensive accepting arbitration. But it’s a fine safety net.
    The point is, I don’t see how the Sox get two picks from this. If they offer arb, Wagner likely accepts. He’d be foolish to decline.
    I agree with other who think this move was meant to block the Yankees. They had more of a need.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 2:51 pm
  • visitor, I think you’re looking too far into this. As for arbitration, everyone thought Varitek would accept, because who was going to give him $10 million on the open market? But he rejected arbitration out of hubris. Wagner has hubris, and he wants to close so he can pile up saves. I don’t think money matters so much to him as much as his career numbers do.

    AndrewYF August 25, 2009, 2:57 pm
  • Visitor, I agree 100%. Move Paps in the off-season, use Bard/Wagner in 2010, then hopefully Bard full-time after that.
    Dump Paps this off-season, while he’s still at peak value.

    Atheose August 25, 2009, 3:00 pm
  • Vartiek learned the hard way. I expect this off-season will be different.
    To your point, who’s going to give Wagner more than a $8 million AAV? Who’s going to give him a multiyear deal on top of losing a first rounder? On a guy just back from TJ?
    I have little doubt the Sox got around the demand from the Wagner camp by suggesting their closer role could be avaiable in 2010. If they trade Papelbon, and offer Wagner arb, why wouldn’t he accept?

    visitor August 25, 2009, 3:04 pm
  • You are right Andrew, brain fart.

    John - YF August 25, 2009, 3:11 pm
  • My interpretation also explains Papelbon’s bitchfest. He acts like an idiot, but I’ve never taken him for one. He knows the writing on the wall. The team has locked up Pedroia and Youkilis. And he also understands what it would mean for the Sox to give $3 million over 6 weeks to another closer. That’s half of what they’re paying him for the season.
    Sox thinking about 2010 here. In that light, and with the significant dollars at stake for making, versus not-making, the post-season, it’s a good move.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 3:21 pm
  • but I’ve never taken him for one.
    Why not?

    SF August 25, 2009, 3:52 pm
  • If Wagner accepts arbitration can’t the Sox walk away from a decision they don’t like for a penalty?

    SF August 25, 2009, 3:57 pm
  • This will be a great addition to the Red Sox roster..!!

    Thomas Jones August 25, 2009, 4:03 pm
  • Visitor – Papelbon has stated numerous times he would forgoe a contract and go year to arbitration year looking for the big FA payday. Lester, Pedroia, Youk wanted the stability.
    SF- never heard of that one, being able to walk away from an arbitration decision. I thought they were binding.

    dw (sf) August 25, 2009, 4:04 pm
  • I am not sure that you can walk away from arbitration as a team, dw though I had heard that in amongst the Wagner discussions, but it seems odd, I thought arbitration was binding.
    I am looking around now, can’t find anything yet.

    SF August 25, 2009, 4:14 pm
  • dw: just read the CBA, arbitration is binding. Teams cannot, as you say, walk away for any penalty. At least that is how I read the CBA.

    SF August 25, 2009, 4:17 pm
  • It’s always seemed like an act to me from Papelbon – like a guy trying to be notorious even while he’s really vanilla.
    If they offer and Wagner accepts, they go to arbitration unless they agree to a contract beforehand. There is no way of pulling it back. There is that new rule about voiding a contract if a player can’t perform, the one talked about if Varitek accepted. But if Wagner pitches only somewhat well over the next few weeks, there’s no chance that applies.
    Presumably they’ll have figured out Papelbon’s market, and perhaps even have made a trade, before the arb deadline. But if they decide to keep Papelbon, he’s due to earn to a decent raise from his $6.25M salary. How can the Sox keep him and offer arb to Wagner knowing he could accept? Are they prepared to pay two relievers close to $20M for one year?
    Wagner is good insurance for 2009 and 2010. Hard to fault the team for that, unless they gave up anything of value to get him.
    One possibility is if the Sox trade Papelbon and Wagner rejects arb. That might be the best scenario for the Sox long-term – they get prospects for Paps and two picks from Wagner. Then they could easily go out and sign a guy like Soriano, Valverde, or Rodney – all free agents. That’s also working against Wagner. There are a few very good relief pitchers on the 2010 market. But how many teams are willing and interested in paying closer money? Seems like that could be the market correction this year.
    Sox have options. That’s always a good place to be. I just wouldn’t assume they’re getting draft picks. That seems like the biggest longshot of all. If they don’t trade Papelbon, I could see hjust letting Wagner walk.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 4:19 pm
  • I think it’s stretching things to take the Wagner signing as a sign that Boston plans on dropping Papelbon.
    I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Boston office is at best undecided on resigning Papelbon, and may even be leaning towards getting rid of him. But I don’t think that was the primary motivator for getting Wagner.
    Ultimately, they were able to bolster their (already good) bullpen for cheap–that’s always a good thing. Worst case, Wagner sucks, and they just stop using him, leaving their bullpen as good as it is now. Best case, they have a good veteran for the stretch. Win-win.
    And after this year, having Wagner just gives them flexibility. The whole thing strikes me as basically a no-lose sort of signing, not the first domino in some grand scheme to replace Paps. Assuming Wagner performs well, this just gives them more options once the season’s over. But I don’t think it’s an indication that those decisions are already made.

    Rex Manning Day August 25, 2009, 4:23 pm
  • > notorious even while he’s really vanilla
    What? If you mean what he says, I guess. If you mean what he does when he is not talking, I don’t think vanilla is the right word.

    attackgerbil August 25, 2009, 4:24 pm
  • About Papelbon and FA, sure. He’s said that. Still, did the team ever try to lock him up long-term?
    In any case, if they’ve tried repeatedly and been rebuffed, that seems like even more reason to trade him while they can.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 4:27 pm
  • Yes, the Sox and Paps discussed a long-term deal. No idea if it was discussed “repeatedly” though.
    http://soxblog.projo.com/2009/01/papelbon-discus.html
    Also, why the f*ck did the Sox ever sign Brad Penny, I want to know.

    SF August 25, 2009, 4:33 pm
  • > Still, did the team ever try to lock him up long-term?
    That’s crazy talk. Papelbon got a record deal in his first year eligible for arb heading into ’09.

    attackgerbil August 25, 2009, 4:34 pm
  • vanilla my be the wrong word, but fratboy chic doesn’t seem very scary or worrisome if I’m in management. He’s dumb at times, but not in the truly harmful category (shooting self or others, killing dogs, abusing drugs/alcohol, etc).
    I don’t think I said the decision has been made to trade Papelbon. Indeed, the team has options. But the most obivious options involve:
    a) Trade Paps, offer arb to Wagner?
    b) Keep Paps, let Wagner walk?
    c) Keep Paps, offer arb to Wagner?
    d) Trade Paps, let Wagner walk, name Bard?
    Option (c) could mean spending a ghastly amount on the 2010 pen if Wagner accepts. (a) or (b) seem more likely. Based on the next few months, they’ll make a decision and then try to execute. Still, they’d have to get something decent for Paps. And since his salary will be close to $8 or $9 million, the few teams interested may just decide to go after one of the free agents.
    If we know anything about the Sox front office, they’re only interested in (over)paying for one closer. That means Paps will be resolved prior to the arb decision needing to be made. The longshot of getting picks wasn’t the reason to make this deal. Wagner helps the team now, when marginal wins are most important, and he gives them flexibility in the decision making. That said, they’re open to bringing him back which is why they wanted the arb as an option. To me that speaks loudly about Paps’ future in bloody sox.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 4:41 pm
  • I don’t know what “crazy talk” means. Getting an excellent one-year deal isn’t the same as getting a very good four-year deal.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 4:46 pm
  • I like the Red Sox, but I think their winning streak is over

    Joy Reed August 25, 2009, 4:56 pm
  • The Herald is reporting that Chris Carter is one of the players going for Wagner: http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/sports/red_sox/index.php/2009/08/25/pawsox-carter-part-of-wagner-deal/
    I now think that this deal has the potential to make the Sox worse, long-term, though I may be inflating Carter’s value.

    stuck working August 25, 2009, 5:03 pm
  • > I don’t know what “crazy talk” means
    It means that he signed the highest value 1st-year relief pitcher arb contract in history. He didn’t get an excellent one year deal; he got THE BEST EVER one year deal for a pitcher in his position.
    You are correct it isn’t the same as getting a very good four-year deal. He will get something like that next time.

    attackgerbil August 25, 2009, 5:10 pm
  • It’s threads like these that really make me feel like a fringe fan…thanks a lot boys! ;)

    krueg reincarnate August 25, 2009, 5:13 pm
  • I tend not to worry about players like Chris Carter, but I may be underestimating his value!

    SF August 25, 2009, 5:18 pm
  • Carter is a good hitter with zero defensive ability, blocked in Boston by Ortiz. And Lowell. And Bay. And now Victor Martinez. And he’s now headed to the NL, where there is no DH. Sucks to be him.
    You know what happens if Wagner accepts the Sox’ arb offer, and they agree to a figure (which they probably would, given that Theo has yet to go to a hearing with anyone)? The Sox will cut him, pay the 1/6th of that agreed-upon salary and say thanks (or no thanks) for your help in 2009. It happened with Tony Graffanino, who was a much nicer person (not really relevant), would have been cheaper than Wagner would be under this scenario, and would have had a more natural role with the team should the Sox have chosen to keep him than Wagner would in 2010.
    All that said, Wagner doesn’t want to set up (wants his 400 saves), and that’s all he’ll be doing if he accepts arb and ends up playing in Boston in 2010. So I think it’s pretty well guaranteed, absent his arm falling off, that he will decline arb.

    Paul SF August 25, 2009, 6:05 pm
  • Why would anyone assume that Wagner would be crazy to accept arbitration from the Red Sox? First of all, you can bet that he fully believes that he still has closer stuff and NOTHING that happens in these paltry 2 months will change his view of that. You can also be sure that he knows the AL East is the worst division in baseball for an aging pitcher regardless of role. I see no reason to assume that he thinks arbitration would net him a larger payday than an open-market competition for his services in a year when the economy should be better than it was in ’09, or that – even with a marginally better payday – he’d rather take that in the AL East over slightly less elsewhere. On the contrary, I see plenty of reasons why he’d be more than happy to walk after 2 months with a contender.

    IronHorse August 25, 2009, 6:05 pm
  • Yeah, Paul, I know Carter’s blocked here. But I still associate him with the failed promise of good old Wily Mo and saw Carter as a way for that entire train of trades to be made good. So that’s somewhat sentimental.
    More importantly, I figured he’d be worth something in a trade for someone, y’know, more useful than Wagner. I didn’t think that this trade had any opportunity costs before, but now I do, even if they are slight.

    stuck working August 25, 2009, 6:13 pm
  • Also, why the f*ck did the Sox ever sign Brad Penny, I want to know.
    Clearly they saw what fun the Yankees had with Sidney Ponson, and wanted their own crappy fat pitcher who used to be highly touted. But they didn’t want to seem like they were copying the Yankees, so they went with Penny instead of Ponson.

    AndrewYF August 25, 2009, 6:32 pm
  • Cutting Wagner in Spring Training isn’t an option if he’s healthy. And why would they offer arb to someone who isn’t healthy? If he’s heathly and pitching down the stretch the Sox don’t have a case. Besides, this is still an unproven route from getting out of arb contracts. The Union may not have balked with Graffino, but they surely would with a high-profile guy like Wagner. Why go through that?
    I see plenty of reasons he may want to walk to the market. But I don’t see a market that will welcome him.
    One, there are numerous younger, better options, especially at the price being discussed. How would a 38 year old coming off TJ surgery have leverage in that oversupplied market?
    Two, who’s going to give him a multiyear deal? Which anonymous team: a) needs a closer; b) will pay more than $8M AAV to fill that role; c) will give up a first-rounde; and d) will pay a 38 year old for two or three years?
    See, if you think the Sox even partly made this deal to get picks, tell me three teams that need closers and so would bid the prices up for Soriano, Valverde, and Wagner. Two of those are not like the other. And Wagner doesn’t even have a special place as a lefty. Mike Gonzalez is also on the market.
    I just don’t see it. But I do see the Sox holding firm on the arb option exactly because they wanted the possibility of actually keeping Wagner. He makes more sense on a one-year deal than those other closers with Bard around. However, offering him arb while intending to keep both Paps and Bard strains the bounds of common sense. Has any team in history paid two bullpen arms $8M plus?
    Sure, Wagner could pull a Varitek. But he’ll see the market develop by the time he needs to make a decision. Hitting catchers are second only to hitting shortstops in scarcity – even when they have forks in their backs. That’s not the case with closers, and certainly not this off-season. By the time it comes for the Sox and Wagner to make their respective choices (and some of you assume it’s a given the Sox offer), Wagner will have watched Soriano and Valverde sign, if not guys like Rodney and Gonzalez too. I see a much greater chance that Wagner opens 2010 as the Sox closer than that the Sox have two extra picks in the 2010 draft. Next up I see the Sox not offering.
    And we’re back to my challenge question:
    Which teams are prepared to sign any closer for more than $8M AAV and for multiple years? If you can’t come up with a few teams, I can’t buy your arguments.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 6:40 pm
  • visitor, your hypothesis of Papelbon playing a double game by acting stupid but being (relatively) smart takes a bit of hit here: in talking about the trade, Theo was asked about Papelbon’s reaction and he said “I think Pap feels he was misunderstood. He’s not a Rhodes Scholar to begin with.”
    Hilarious.

    stuck working August 25, 2009, 7:01 pm
  • Did I say he was “smart”? I just don’t think he’s THAT dumb. It feels more like a convenient fiction – like Manny – in which the player uses to get all sorts of room from the media by being dumb with them.
    Also, no matter the economy, owners know they won last year. They lowered prices. Someone might give Soriano or Valverde a F-Rod deal. Who, I have no idea.
    Still, there’s a glut. By the most recent estimate of the Elias rankings there are, in order, 10 Type-A free agents:
    Valverde
    Soriano
    Gonzalez
    Hoffman
    Wagner
    Gregg
    Hawkins
    T.Miller
    Dotel
    Oliver
    The first seven are all closers.
    Wagner may want alot of things. It’s very hard to see how he gets either closer money or a multiyear deal.
    That said, if the Sox are even considering trading Papelbon, this is a good low-risk move (since the money is no object). If they could bring Wagner back on a one-year deal and while getting hitting prospects for Papelbon, would any SF here complain? They get those prospects, a lefty closer for the same relative money they’re already spending, and they don’t have to give up any draft picks (Hoffman) to have insurance on Bard. Seems like a win-win-win to me. The only hitch I can see is that Papelbon isn’t valuable on the trade market because of the glut. In that case, they’ll probably just let Wagner walk since that same glut drives down his price.
    Wow, I’ve written alot of words in this thread to basically say the same thing: The Sox didn’t make this move for draft picks.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 7:22 pm
  • Visitor, your “challenge question” assumes that Wagner would prefer, for instance, $8 mill per year for multiple yrs playing in the AL East over, say less than that for the same or more years playing for any one of 25 teams that don’t play in that division. It assumes all other closers set to go on the market will stay healthy and effective. More to the point, it assumes that Wagner will be so afraid that there is not one single GM out there willing to do what there has ALWAYS been one GM willing to do (until this off year thanks to a historically bad recession) that he will take what he can get from one team over what he could get from a market of 29. I don’t think Boston did this only for or primarily for picks either. That doesn’t explain why Wagner was trying to get Boston to promise not to offer arbitration, leta lone predict what his reaction would be if they do.

    IronHorse August 25, 2009, 7:38 pm
  • 1. Wagner wouldn’t get multiple years with the Sox. He’d get one, at most. I have no idea why the division matters to you. Who says “I’ll go to that division for two months, but no more!”? When has that ever happened?
    2. The market will have developed by the time Wagner needs to accept or reject. There will be demand for Soriano and Valverde. That sets the market. The deadline for accepting in 2009 was December 1st. You really think that neither Soriano or Valverde – both outstanding closers – will sign by then? Or that rumors of offers to them won’t be known?
    3. You need more than one GM to be interested Wagner. You need at least two for a market. Except there are at least 6 or 7 closers available. How may closer jobs will be available?
    4. You still haven’t named even one big market team that needs a closer. Who’s going to give a multiyear to any closer, let alone one who’s 38 and coming off of TJ surgery?
    Sure, maybe the Sox offer arb while still keeping Paps and Bard. And maybe Wagner declines for, what he thinks, is a big payday. In order for that scenario to work it would be helpful to discuss even two big market teams with the need and money and who would rather fill that gap with a 38 year old coming back from TJ than either Soriano or Valverde or even Gonzalez.
    Seriously, no one here can name two teams that fit the bill? So I’m supposed to believe that Wagner will decline a guaranteed $8-10M without one solid suitor, including a closer job and commensurate salary, in the wings? Somehow I don’t think my skepticism is misplaced.
    Wagner’s agent knows it’s much harder to get a decent contract when picks are at stake. Once he got them to agree to waiving the option, it’s no surprised he asked for more. But what’s important here is who caved. The Sox wanted the flexibility of maybe having Wagner for 2010. Most importantly, say they traded Papelbon and Wagner declines. So what? They’ve got plenty of options (see above) and Plan Bard isn’t too bad either. I seem to remember the organization previously handing the closer role to an unproven fireballer.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 8:01 pm
  • I’m on my b-berry and not interested in writing a thesis but a couple points: 1. It doesn’t take two GMs to make a market. It takes one and a good agent. You must know this. 2. Re: division, if Wagner wants his 400 saves as much as he wants X payday, division does matter. It’s simply not that difficult to understand. You can speculate that all he cares about is the largest payday. I can speculate that he has other considerations such as racking up personal stats. The only difference is that I acknowledge that we are both speculating. You may be right. You also may be wrong. Same with me. That’s all. 3. Nothing you say re: the Sox motivation is being questioned here. We are talking about Wagner’s motivation. 4. As for your unending desire for one big-market team in need of a closer: start with every big market teams that is out there and subtract from that number the number of teams that know for a fact that their current closer will remain healthy, effective, etc. The reulting number is your answer. If you think this is foolish thinking, consider the team Wagner is just now walking away from.

    IronHorse August 25, 2009, 8:22 pm
  • 1. One buyer isn’t a market. You must know this. See, in order for there to be robust demand, it helps if the supply isn’t 3-5x of demand. Agents work when information is secret. How has that worked recently?
    2. So a player will pick his team and division based on stat-potential? That will be the first time in the history of the sport I’ve ever heard that one. I think though I’ve heard of players taking the most money before. Somewhere, I think I heard that. I could be wrong.
    3. Some above are pretty confident that part of the primary motivation is the draft picks. I started by disagreeing with this point. I’m still there. Of course, didn’t I hear the Sox would get two picks for Gagne. How’d that work out?
    4. That’s what I’m asking you and your argument bretheren to come up with. I already know I can’t come up with one big market team that needs a closer. I need your help. Help me, IronHorse. Since you’re on a blackberry and all, feel free to use the team abbreviations.
    In case you didn’t hear, the team he is now leaving dropped $37M on a closer last off-season. And another $12M on a setup guy.

    visitor August 25, 2009, 8:34 pm
  • “visitor,” you’re “supposed to believe” whatever you like. But IH is right that GMs are often stupid and like shiny stars such as Wagner. Moreover, things could look very different in December, etc, etc. There’s obviously no 100% correct answer on this and we’re all just making educated guess.
    Your somewhat aggressive manner of engagement, which seems to imply that there is only one reasonable view to hold about the topic, is kind of familiar — have you posted here before? Or is it just a classic mode of internet thread participation?

    stuck working August 25, 2009, 8:36 pm
  • Thanks sw. I’m done with him anyway.
    I’m just happy to hear that I have “brethren”. I will be speaking from the Temple on the Mount on Fridays and Sundays oh ye brethren – for all those who want to be saved.
    Oh, and will one of ye please inform John Smoltz and Cliff Lee that division apparently doesn’t matter to a pitcher’s performance? You can use the parchment I left in the manger.

    IronHorse August 25, 2009, 8:58 pm
  • Gentlemen, come on. We all know who “visitor” is, don’t we?
    1. Verbose writing style.
    2. Intelligent yet intensely dogmatic.
    3. Refuses to acknowledge errors or inaccuracies.
    4. Co-opts phrases from opposing arguments to make his points all the more condescending.
    5. Disappears for a couple weeks after flaming out in spectacular fashion, then suddenly we have a new “visitor.”
    This isn’t really a mystery, is it?

    Paul SF August 26, 2009, 2:31 pm
  • I was being a little coy in my comment above, Paul, but I agree that the identity in question was pretty obvious.
    It’s notable, though, that Buster Olney more or less endorses his conclusions today: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster
    Come to think of it, have you ever seen thpse two together in a chat room at the same time? Hmmm.

    stuck working August 26, 2009, 2:40 pm
  • Poor Enrique Gonzalez – he’s getting DFA’d for the second time this month to make room for Wakefield.
    So who goes to make room for Wagner on Thursday? Bard to PawSox for a few days?

    dw (sf) August 26, 2009, 2:45 pm
  • If Wakefield looks good today, my guess is Penny gets DFA’d. It wasn’t a bad deal, and through June he had provided quite a bit of value as the fifth starter, but the loss of Wakefield combined with his own second-half fade really exposed his weaknesses.

    Paul SF August 26, 2009, 2:53 pm
  • Penny DFA’d – almost feel bad for him, I thought he was picking up momentum, but it went the wrong way after the ASB. he has no out pitch at all.

    dw (sf) August 26, 2009, 3:33 pm
  • If I wanted to comment, I would. Of course, I’d also use my name.
    I didn’t disappear. I still check most days. But when fanboys want to believe anything they choose, then literally attack when someone dares point out the problems, yeah I have better things to do. Of course, sticking to “Penny had quite a bit of value” outs the fans and clearly separates them from the legitimate analysts. You can draw that line with a magic marker. I thought this site was different. You guys are entertaining, for part-timers, but I know now I’m not getting objective analysis here. It’s more like the better parts of two rabid fanbases, but fanbases all the same.
    Lest I be accused of going off-topic: Good move to get Wagner for peanuts. But I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the Sox closer in 2010.

    Rob August 26, 2009, 3:42 pm
  • I don’t feel bad for Brad Penny at all. I only feel bad that Theo didn’t trade him when he had some value. Too bad the Mets weren’t interested.
    Besides, the Sox still have Paul Byrd to call up when rosters expand, so there will still be no shortage of guys for me to be exasperated with.

    stuck working August 26, 2009, 3:44 pm
  • he has no out pitch at all.
    He never has. Not even when his “numbers” were so “great” two years ago. Any one paying attention to his peripherals knew this. That is, any one who believes baseball data is informative about some approximate of the truth rather than supporting the greatness of your team allegiance.
    Before you attack me, instead of my arguments, I’m gone. I have no interest in the back and forth here. Not now at least. I’m happily watching a first place team and by a wide margin.

    Rob August 26, 2009, 3:52 pm
  • “in which the player uses to get all sorts of room from the media”
    And we have, in no uncertain terms, a “tell”.
    Also, IP addresses are a real bitch sometimes.

    SF August 26, 2009, 3:56 pm
  • SW – I said “almost” :)
    The Globe has also picked up on the who goes next them in exra bases…

    dw (sf) August 26, 2009, 4:01 pm
  • Print the IP addresses then. I write from two places: My office and my home. Show me a connection to “visitor”. All I can say is I’m not him. Why would I change my name when I can comment at any time?
    Not only are some of you fanboys, first and foremost, you’re now outing yourselves as paranoid fanboys. Seems about right for SFs. Seriously you have nothing better than to analyze IPs? That’s funny.
    I’m not interested in this but it’s obvious you guys are for some weird pissing contest. That’s exactly the reason I don’t comment here any more. You have your sandbox and you don’t like your errors being consistently shown. I get that. Enjoy the Tonka trucks.

    Rob August 26, 2009, 4:04 pm
  • I can’t find anything showing Penny DFA’d on the Googleplex.
    I did see that he was claimed by a team, but then pulled back. Why wouldn’t Theo have let pursued a trade?

    SF August 26, 2009, 4:04 pm
  • By the way, my work has a static IP so that should help your “analysis”. I’ve never checked if my home is dynamic, since I don’t connect to here, but I would imagine it is. So what, you’re grouping me with anyone who’s first sets of digits match?
    And you wonder why I have problems with your baseball analysis. Logic FAIL.

    Rob August 26, 2009, 4:07 pm
  • Shovel, meet deeper and deeper hole.

    SF August 26, 2009, 4:13 pm
  • Why wouldn’t Theo have let pursued a trade?
    Because by the time he was claimed, the Sox needed him too badly — no Wakefield, no Matsuzaka, Smoltz coughing up blood.
    Penny was an interesting case — a good signing, who provided good value, but by the time his value was at its peak, the Sox needed him too much to trade him. Then he started sucking, and now that they have their pitching depth back, he’s superfluous and untradeable. Just bad luck and bad timing for everyone involved.

    Paul SF August 26, 2009, 4:18 pm
  • Of course, the hilarious thing is I work in Cambridge and live 10 miles away. You really think those first four points don’t apply to 90% of the people that live in this area? That’s pretty funny.
    I thought this one type of site. I learned it was another. My mistake.
    And now look at what’s happened. One of the mods made a personal attack in violation of your TOS. Rather than knock that back, you choose to dig in. And of course, I invited Paul to email me months ago to address his concerns privately. He never did. Instead he makes fools of you both.

    Rob August 26, 2009, 4:21 pm
  • I thought this one type of site. I learned it was another.
    We’re apparently just the type of site you can’t go without reading every day.

    Paul SF August 26, 2009, 4:47 pm
  • Rob, can you post as “visitor” while drinking milk at the same time?
    If you can, you’ve got a believer.

    SF August 26, 2009, 4:53 pm
  • I love how this happens once every few months. It’s like watching an old couple get back together, get along fine for a few months, and then one of them picks a fight and they break up.
    If you’re not happy with someone, stop getting back together with them. Get the message?

    Atheose August 26, 2009, 5:12 pm
  • Rob, my son. Heed not the masses urging you to relent. Stand true to thine course lest ye fall into the valley of death. Break bread and endure thine slings and arrows, for thine is the glorious path.
    – Your faithful brethren
    p.s. 20 bucks Wagner rejects arbitration.

    IronHorse August 26, 2009, 5:47 pm
  • IH, I forgot to pay my tithe this month. Should I leave and come back with a check?

    Atheose August 26, 2009, 6:23 pm
  • No my son, that would be the sanction for a YF. For you, 40 lashes!!!

    IronHorse August 26, 2009, 6:39 pm
  • Hey, Rob says this site is biased to SF’s… what gives?

    rootbeerfloat August 26, 2009, 6:54 pm
  • Do you guys have more than 30 people who comment here? After 6 years? That’s pretty impressive. Why not just close down the comments to only registered users? It’s obvious you don’t welcome newbies well. Why keep up the charade? And with the way you’re treating me here, it’s not even a charade.
    Meanwhile if you’re checking IPs to see how often people visit, that’s just sad and a little pathetic. I did say I find this place entertaining. It fits my baseball sensibilities quite nicely thanks, especially based on the current standings. Nothing like reading suffering from the insufferable! I just won’t be discussing baseball here any time soon even as I have much to delight in and comment on. Expecting a different result would mean I’m more hopeful than I let on or I’m just crazy. I’m probably little of both. But either way it won’t be happening.
    Not sure if I think the site is biased, per se, one way or another or if I’ve just had more run-in’s with the SF mods. That doesn’t matter though. They can be as much or as little biased as they’d like. It’s their site. Feigning objectivity though is a bit galling.
    I know I annoyed many SFs here with my stance on Ortiz. But that’s truly your problem. I called it early in the season. I was told I needed to stop. Then when reality proved me right I got no apology. That would have been fine if the SFs accepted it for what it was, shrugged, and moved on. Instead the parsing to maintain the hero status for the smiling but underpowered DH, and my reaction to it, slowly turned you guys against me.
    In hindsight though it’s pretty funny. So is the notion of an Ortiz curse and dirt dogs cowboying up. Ah, this rivalry will never get old. And yup, it will keep me coming back day after day. I’m just not going to bother with actual baseball discussion. So you can keep attacking me over nothing and you can keep trying to piss further and longer.
    Have fun!

    Rob August 26, 2009, 8:05 pm
  • rob, i’d prefer not to see you abandon the commentary, though i’m sure i’m alone…i have no idea who “visitor” was, beyond the fact that it wasn’t me…that’s all i know, but i also don’t care…i’m the one who has said that this site is sox-centric…i don’t care who else is with me or against me…doesn’t matter, it’s true…i base it on my observations, or point of view, which are as valid as anyone elses…it’s funny to break jeter’s balls [about anything], but lay off ortiz…it’s cool, i get into it once in awhile with the other guys about that kind of shit, but we usually smoke the peace pipe and agree to move on…that will never change my perception…expect to be attacked from time to time when you are contrary and make some waves, even if the facts are on your side…one thing i’ve learned is that the sterotypes about our fanbases are unfair…red sox fans are not as whiney and bitter as yankee fans think, and yankee fans are not as arrogant and entitled as sox fans think…generally, we’re all thoughful and fair, with a few exceptions…the discussion can be fun and interesting if we let it…

    dc August 26, 2009, 10:04 pm
  • Thanks dc. Sounds like you’ve had similar experiences.
    I can deal with defending a minority position. That’s even fun sometimes, especially when all the fanboys have is their emotion and some belief that stats are only useful when they support your side, countervailing evidence be damned.
    It’s the personal attacks that are out of line. That would be fine if they didn’t pretend like the behavior was unacceptable. It would also be fine if it was one person. But when moderators fan the flamers in the mob, I know I’ve ventured into troll-ville.
    When’s the last time I’ve read actual analysis here? I don’t. Now all I read are opinions and game threads. That’s means this is a fansite. No problem with that. There’s just no serious baseball analysis that occurs here any more. No surprise really when we reflect on how weak that analysis typically was. That’s what happens when “analysis” is about supporting your team (or party) allegiance first and foremost. But that’s politics, not baseball.
    Fansites are entertaining, and this one has a special place. But it is a fansite all the same. Now I know not to bother. Life is about learning stuff. I chalk this up to a lesson learned. I think about the Yankees (my team) and the Sox (based on where I live) pretty regularly. I love baseball. And sooner or later I’ll find a way to talk about it with knowledgeable fans of both fanbases. I just don’t expect it will happen here any time soon. The most vocal mods seem to have very thin skin for objective criticism and with how they treat newcomers there’s seldom new points of view. It’s group-think with arbitrary but prescribed limits. No thanks.

    Rob August 27, 2009, 9:43 am

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