Night and Day

More good news from Orlando this morning. Nick Cafardo reports the Yankees do not believe they have a shot at signing Mike Lowell:

Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman both commented yesterday that they will have to make a deal for a third baseman to replace Alex Rodriguez, the insinuation being that they expect Lowell, the top third baseman on the market after A-Rod, to stay put. …

Sources familiar with the Lowell negotiations indicate that the popular third baseman – who officially filed for free agency yesterday – would need a third year guaranteed, and if he gets it, he’s likely to take a hometown discount.

Of course, it’s not a done deal yet, but this reminds me again how much different this front office is from the Red Sox management of my youth, when every offseason seemed to be rife with contention between free agents and then-General Manager Dan Duquette. Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco and John Valentin — the four stars of the division-winning 1995 club — all had bitter, protracted offseason negotiations over the next two years.

Aside from the consternation and frustration they caused the ticket-buying public, such negotiations left Boston a place where few star athletes wanted to come play. It’s to the credit of the current ownership group and Theo Epstein that players like Tim Wakefield, Curt Schilling and possibly even Mike Lowell are even willing to take discounts because they enjoy playing for the Red Sox so much.

Ten years ago, that was unthinkable.

18 comments… add one
  • Winning also probably makes it easier..

    Lar November 7, 2007, 11:39 am
  • Paul, you’re right. This management team has seemed to develop good will between itself and its players. Credit where credit is due.
    Really, I think this is good news for Yanks fans to a certain degree. The Yanks would have had to overpay for Lowell, who is still on the wrong side of 30. I wish they could have bid the Sox up on Lowell however.

    Nick-YF November 7, 2007, 11:43 am
  • The Sox won the division in 1995 and had the best second half in baseball in 1996, Lar. Granted, it’s not two World Series in four years, but with Nomar coming up, the Sox weren’t exactly a terrible team either. Well, until 1997…

    Paul SF November 7, 2007, 11:50 am
  • I think that the hometown discount is partly due to the effect of the fans, the team’s future, and the front office but also from a more selfish prospective Lowell hits great in Fenway. The park is great for him, he isnt putting those kinds of numbers up anywhere else so from a personal side it makes sense for him to stay for this reason too.
    Does signing Lowell completely take the sox out of the A-Rod derby? If so, Boras telling the yankees to get lost is looking worse and worse. He usually gets it done but i just dont see how he is gonna get his 10 years at $30+ mil for Alex. The angels and the dodgers may be interested but their pockets arent that deep.

    sam-YF November 7, 2007, 12:03 pm
  • If Lowell comes back, I think Boston’s 2008 lineup can only be stronger than 2007:
    * Assuming Lowell may regress a bit toward his career mean (downward) and Manny does the same (upward), the middle of the order remains fearsome.
    * Ellsbury is a huge upgrade over Crisp, imho. His fielding is close to Coco’s, and will only get better as he gets comfortable in center; and he looks likely to both hit much better than Coco, and to tear up the basebaths, making opposing pitchers tear out their hair.
    * Drew seemed to finally hit his stride, and became more accepted, in the postseason, so I would expect him to upgrade offensively from 2007.
    * Ellsbury-Pedroia-Youkilis is a potentially lethal bunch, backed by Papi, Manny and Lowell. This may sound nutty, but I almost think it’s worth bumping Ortiz to #4 and Manny to #5.
    * The only weak spots in the lineup are thus (a) Tek, who has been declining offensively for a few years now, but probably won’t decline any more, and (b) Lugo, who some here seem to think will rebound next year. I’m dubious on that, and in the long term think the Sox may want to upgrade at short.
    Anyway, to make a long story a little less long, I think the Sox really only need to focus on pitching in the offseason. Despite all the high hopes for Lester & Clay (I can’t type Buc—-z without making an error), and despite Wakefield ready to fill any and all gaps, I think it’s a bit much to assume that someone in the rotation won’t get hurt, and/or someone has a disappointing year.
    And the Sox clearly always need more middle and set-up relievers. (I’m still not clear on where Donnelly’s at.)
    So I’d love to see Theo pursue another #2-#3 quality starter, and stock up on relief help.

    Hudson November 7, 2007, 12:30 pm
  • // The Yanks would have had to overpay for Lowell, who is still on the wrong side of 30. I wish they could have bid the Sox up on Lowell however. //
    Heh. That’s exactly what people thought when the Sox “had” to take on Lowell to get Beckett.
    I love how Mike keeps proving that conventional wisdom wrong. Or did no one notice that he had a career year (following on a most excellent 2006) and was the WS MVP?

    Anonymous November 7, 2007, 12:32 pm
  • // The Yanks would have had to overpay for Lowell, who is still on the wrong side of 30. I wish they could have bid the Sox up on Lowell however. //
    Heh. That’s exactly what people thought when the Sox “had” to take on Lowell to get Beckett.
    I love how Mike keeps proving that conventional wisdom wrong. Or did no one notice that he had a career year (following on a most excellent 2006) and was the WS MVP…?

    Hudson November 7, 2007, 12:32 pm
  • Hudson, he’s 34 a very good, but in order to sign him, the Yanks would have had to pry him away from the Sox at a pretty steep cost, especially in years. He might very well age gracefully, but it’s a huge risk.

    Nick-YF November 7, 2007, 12:35 pm
  • I think you can expect a slightly better year from Manny next year but at 36 its possible that he could not be coming back to his mid-career numbers. Hard to say what to expect from Pedroia and Ellsbury. They both looked great this year but young players can be so volitile. I would say overall the sox line up is in great shape for next season. After locking up schilling, i dont think there is much to be done on the rotation either. The bullpen is a yearly issue for all teams. Overall the sox are in excellent shape for next year.

    sam-YF November 7, 2007, 12:35 pm
  • I think we could expect small-to-moderate decline from Lowell, Pedroia and Varitek, with small-to-moderate increase from Youkilis and Ramirez. Ortiz would stay the same — on base less but with more power now that he’s back to being healthy. Drew, Lugo and Ellsbury I think will represent a marked improvement over their positions’ respective numbers in 2007. Both Drew and Lugo had much better second halves/playoffs. Considering the adjustment period most players coming to the AL East for the first time seem to need, that’s not insignificant to me.

    Paul SF November 7, 2007, 12:41 pm
  • I’m actually not sure what to make of this sentiment. I agree it’s there to some extent on the player’s side (and much better than that to the southwest). But it’s not universal. Manny certainly hasn’t gotten the same treatment from the organization. Nor did the castoffs from the 2004 team. Nor even the free agents of the 2006 off-season. Drew certainly didn’t sacrifice any money to play in Boston. Nor did Lugo. Nor did Matsuzaka.
    I think winning does play a big part of things. Seems like the current Yankee free agents didn’t negotiate as hard during their last contracts. It’s easy to put aside individual demands when the team is winning.
    Otherwise, I think the leaders on the team play as big a role as anything. Papi’s willingness to take an undervalued contract surely sends signals to his teammates. Jeter making a ton similarly says something else. :)
    But let’s be honest. The discount only goes so far. Schilling got incentives but can still earn 13 million (though that 8 million base is still absurd). Lowell may be willing to take three years but at anything more than 36 million and it ain’t no bargain. He could *maybe* get a fourth year elsewhere but it ain’t guaranteed.
    Wake is the only real outlier.

    Pete November 7, 2007, 12:42 pm
  • (So, it looks to me like Boston only had a one-year deal with Donnelly. Funny how he’s gone unmentioned… Is he retiring or something?)

    Hudson November 7, 2007, 1:07 pm
  • By the way, has anyone here done business negotiations? I’m just getting into it myself, and I have to say it’s rather distasteful. There’s acrimony all around and if you’re very worried about getting a fair deal, you do have push back HARD. It should be noted that both Wake and Schill negotiated themselves and both got undervalued by market standards. An agent wouldn’t have let that happen.
    Lowell for me is the interesting test case of this theory about the environment. Seems like he could get 36/3 from many other teams. If he comes in at or below that, it’s a hometown discount. Anything above that, and there were no favors from him or his agent.

    Pete November 7, 2007, 1:13 pm
  • Still not feelign comfortable about Lowell, but you guys ahve calmed me down a bit.
    I’d fall down if we actually got him for less than 36/3. I really hope that the Sox arent holding out on that 3rd year. He’s worth makign a Tek Exemption for.

    Dionysus November 7, 2007, 1:35 pm
  • I still am not sure why we SFs and YFs are too concerned about “overpaying” for players. It should be clear by now (most recently made evident when the Sox ate Renteria) that our teams can afford to take cents on the dollar to extricate themselves from positional logjams or undesirable roster moves. The fact that Jason Giambi is still on the Yankee roster isn’t proof that he was immovable or that moving him wasn’t an affordable transaction for the Yankees, but rather that the Yankees didn’t like what was offered for Giambi or felt, on a baseball level, that he could still contribute.
    That’s not to say we fans shouldn’t look at contracts and assess value, or make assumptions about how such large contracts will change our teams for better or for worse, or speculate about how much they might hamstring our squads, but with the Sox and Yanks this is a far lesser issue. If the Yankees can get Lowell and solve a positional problem for the near term and continue to contend, why is that “overpaying”? Why should those few million dollars be a concern for the fans from a transactional standpoint? How can we assume it will negatively impact future roster moves?

    SF November 7, 2007, 2:01 pm
  • You’ll get close to 100% agreement with me there, SF.
    I think more teams are realizing it’s not dollars but years. The Sox and Yankees both are on board with “shorter equals better” logic. And I agree there. The problem with Lowell for any team is the prospect of him making a lot while clogging the bench. The Sox and Yanks can afford those mistakes, which is why it’s disingenuous to not bid appropriately, unless they think another option can be had more cheaply.
    Damon comes to mind there. The Sox damn well *could* have re-signed him. The money wasn’t an obstacle. They just thought they could get similar production for less. Clemens (and Abreu) same deal. The money wasn’t an issue, so I can’t stand it being used as an excuse. Just come out and say “We thought we could do better for those dollars”. At least that’s honest.

    Pete November 7, 2007, 2:20 pm
  • I missed Lowell and want him back wearing Yankees uniform .. He’s former Yankees Farm hand by the way…

    emcee-Yf November 7, 2007, 6:21 pm
  • I think the test for the Sox is whether or not they can really get Lowell for ONLY 3 years without at least a 4th year incentive/option.
    Paying him the 13 mil a year isn’t the discount…it’s the years (IMO).

    walein November 7, 2007, 6:39 pm

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