Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So let me get this straight...

Okay, so I've been studying pretty much non-stop for the past three weeks. When I finally do pull my head up from the book and check out my favorite baseball team, I find out that they currently are missing from the lineup:

Coco, Manny, Trot, Wily Mo, Ortiz, Varitek, Mirabelli, Gonzalez, Lester, with no progress from Wakefield, Dinardo, and Clement.

The Sox have fallen 7 games behind the Striped-Douchebags (9 in the lose column), 6.5 back in the wild card.

Honestly, at this point, get whatever you can for Wells, rest Manny until his knee is 100%, if Ortiz is okay let him come back and hit 3 jacks to surpass Jimmy Foxx then wrap him in mothballs until spring training, and just pray. I mean, being this far back and missing the top 4 outfielders, top 2 catchers, the best DH in Red Sox history, and about a dozen pitchers, it is time to see what the last few worthwhile prospects in Pawtucket have and look towards next year. I'm going back to studying.

PS- It's amazing how studying for economics has a way of sapping my usual optimism, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sympathy for the devil


Tuesday, August 22, 2006


1) I'm beginning to suspect that this may not be the Red Sox year...

2) More on that: While not entirely writing off the Sox, I think it's important to remember that this was billed as a transition year coming in, and that has pretty much been what has happened. One of the main goals of the season was to build up the youth movement from the minors and start aclimating some of the young players to the major. We may have lost sight of that because the Sox had the second best record in the majors for a while, but essentially this swoon is a function of the new players coming back to earth as the grind of the season wore on. Our 4 young pitchers are all scuffling to varying degrees at the moment. Youkilis is still playing well, but not as hot as he was at the beginning of the year. Pena is still a work in progress, and Coco still seems to be hurting at the plate from that finger injury. Oh, and Josh Beckett becomes an idiot whenever he gets into a hitter's count.

Sure, it would have been nice if the Sox continued playing like they did against the national league, but that wasn't going to happen. While a few players have performed better than expectation, really most things have gone poorly for the team and there is no way to fix that.

What went right for the Sox: Ortiz and Manny are monsters, Schilling came back reasonably well, Lowell had a hot start, as did Youkilis, and Paps was a monster through the first half.

What went wrong: Wells missed half the season, Clement blew up before getting hurt, Foulke blew up before getting hurt, Coco got hurt and hasn't rebounded, Dinardo blew up and got hurt, Wakefield got hurt, Varitek got hurt, Nixon got hurt twice, Pena got hurt, Josh Beckett.

Not much you can do with that. Sure, the Yanks lost $26mm in salary to injuries in the form of 2 players, but that just means that their lineup only has $98mm left to cover for them. So, I'm sorry, but with all due respect the Yanks have nothing to complain about from injuries. The Sox lost their season because of theirs. Whenever you lose your #3-6 starters, your starting catcher has a crap year before going out, your #2 starter implodes every other start, and the only reason you are still competitive is because of three players (one of whom is a rookie), good things may not happen.

3) One final note: did anybody else notice that, since the Abreu trade, the salary disparity between the #1 and #2 teams ($74mm) in the American League is actually larger than the disparity between the #2 team and the last place team ($73mm)? I know this is bitching that is unlikely to garner sympathy, but I do get tired of the assertion that "The Sox and Yanks can just outspend everybody". Um, the Yankees can outspend everybody. The Sox are just the top of the second tier, with payrolls about on par in with the Angels and Mets. You never hear about how the Angels can outspend everyone else.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Prolonged absence

The reason for my prolonged absence up to this point is that I have my comprehensive exams coming up on September 6 & 8, which I need to pass in order to remain in my program. Though the Royal's sweep was somewhat scarring, the series was not such a traumatic experience that I dropped off the face of the earth. Rather, it (and the fairly disasterous serious against the Tigers and the so-far disasterous 5-gamer against the Yanks) just coincides with the fact that I am spending about 60 hours a week cramming my head with economic information in order to get those "high pass" grades I'm going to need to continue getting paid. Though the Sox pitching seems to have absolutely crumbled since Varitek got hurt, and another two losses today and tomorrow may be something close to a death nail, I haven't given up faith per se. I've just given up caring while I try to get my brain in high gear for economics.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Wow. Swept by the Royals. Didn't see that coming...

Friday, August 04, 2006

People forget it is also a good thing

This Story, about a documentary on debt levels in America, kind of annoys me. Don't get me wrong, I think that there are a lot of people out there that use too much credit and screw up their financial well-being for decades because they use too much of the credit available to them. Hell, I'm spending huge chunks of time at a college campus, where free credit cards are easier to get than free condoms. I just don't like the backlash it is creating. Basically, people are looking at this simplisticly, which is never a good thing:

Problem: people are getting themselves into debt and can't get out because they are offered too much credit too easily
Solution: crack down and defame the people offering the credit

Um, no. From the pamphlets and speaches and political messages that get spouted about this issue, you would think credit cards are worse for your health than cigarrettes, pollution, alcohol, and genocide combined. And yes, bankruptcy, heavy debt loads, and lack of savings are weighing down the country (can't wait to pay for my parent's generation's retirement once I get out from under my student loans), but restricting who can and cannot get credit is 1) stupid and 2) not American. Legislate who gets credit? How is that constitutional? If a company views somebody as being worthy of a credit line, that should be extended to them, and it is harmful to not give the person or the company that option. Because, really, the problem above is not the correct statement. What we really are looking at is the following:

Problem: people are not using credit responsibly, and are getting into trouble because of it, which may lead to a restriction of credit for those who actually need it or can use it responsibily.
Solution: better education on credit, more responsibility on the familial level, stricter bankruptcy laws and better regulation of debt repayments.

Legislation that attacks the issuers of credit, and removes their incentive to do so, would hurt the economy and the country (and millions of people) far worse than a small portion of people being hammered by debt. Sure, there is no easy answer, but restricting access of credit to those who may need it at a time when they need it is much worse than somebody abusing their credit. If you restrict access to credit, it makes it harder for some people to get through college (if at all), weather hardship, or basically live in a 2-period consumption framework for their lives. Just because some people make poor decisions doesn't mean you should block other people's rights.

Personally, when I have kids, you'd better believe that I'm teaching them how to use a credit card responsibly. And if one of the kids screws it up, I'm not going to stop trying to teach the others.

This whole movement smacks of easy solutions that are harmful to society as a whole. If a fox kills your chickens, you don't shoot the pig for seeing it.

Response to the one person who still reads this weblog

Steady B said...
"Fletcher,I really do not want to defend Bowden because he often comes across as arogant. However, You can not deny that he was able to pick the Reds' pockets in broad day light. A stupid man would not have been able to pull that trade off. I really think that the front office pressured him in to keeping Soriano because he is a fan favorite and has the star power to become the face of the franchise, a franchise that is trying to gain a foothold on its fan base. "

First, I agree he got good value in that Reds trade. However, while getting an extra $500 on the sale of a pinto is somewhat impressive (though Krivesky seemed to have a few other poor reliever trades), when you turn around and hold onto the lease of Lexus that could have brought you back ownership on a Porsche the two don't really offset each other.

If I may change metaphors, it seems like Bowden went to see Waterworld, which obviously sucked, then said, "But it was worth it, because there was a good preview before the movie started, and even though I didn't enjoy the movie I had good company and it was a fun family outing and we are all happy with each other." Then, if he does sign Soriano to a contract similar to the one I proposed, he basically will be saying, "Because I liked that preview so much, I'm going to not only purchase the 4-disc collector's edition DVD, I'm also willing to pay triple the price to see Waterworld 2: Electric (eel) Bugaloo".

Especially from reading Buster Olney and Jason Stark, it really seems that it was just Bowden being greedy that didn't get the deal done. Kasten wants to build through the draft, have a solid farm team, and not get covered with tough contracts. Sure, Soriano is about as popular as any other player on the team, but so was Brad Wilkerson before him, and honestly attendence has been pretty sporadic anyhow. I doubt 2 draft picks and a cloud of dust really makes them happy. They wanted some help for Ryan and Nick in the next year or two that was cheap, rather than having to shell out big money for Soriano to play on a bunch of non-competitive teams. At least that is the view the Washington Post seems to be portraying.

Eh, I'm sticking with my assumption that Bowden is an arrogant ass who just assumes he can fleece every other GM just because, whereas in truth he only gets better value on small deals. Again, just because he made a killing at a yard sale doesn't mean he would be a good investment banker, if you get my drift.

Man, too many metaphors to describe how dumb Bowden is. I need coffee.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Great Minds Think Alike

Just thought I would quote something Jason Stark said in this article:

"The buzz is that [Soriano] wants to start the bidding at $16 million to $17 million a year for five years. And he wants a complete no-trade clause -- a perk new team president Stan Kasten is philosophically and historically allergic to. "

Now where did I hear something like that before? It's nice to know that my estimate of 5-years, $16.5mm per split the uprights perfectly, as well as the no-trade clause. I should be a sports agent. Maybe I could get Bowden to hire me so that he can stop looking like a complete and utter jackass on things like this. Bidding for me starts at $200k a year, which means he'll probably give me a 10-year $20 million contract.

On a side note, it is hot as hell in this freakin' city.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

And they keep on coming

In three successive nights, starting with the day before the trade deadline, hours after Abreu was traded and the Sox might have use for the guy, the sox have seen:

Trot hurt his arm (7/30)
Tek hurt his knee (7/31)
Lowell hurt his ankle (8/1)

Not sure how severe Lowell's ankle is, but the other two are out for a while. So a third of the lineup has gone out in three nights. Crap. Well, hopefully Wells starts pitching better than Monday night, Wakefield comes back strong, Foulke and Clement figure out what the hell is wrong with them, or failing either of those guys Dinardo, and Snyder pitches like he did two nights ago.

Come on Lester, get us back in the win column

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Nice work

Some highlights and some lowlights from last night:

-Tek got hurt
-Wells needed a rehab start

-Synder throws 4 1/3 scoreless, allowing 1-hit and a comeback try
-Pena goes a double shy of the cycle, drives in 3
-Manny goes yard, plating two runs
-David Ortiz turns a 2-run deficit into a mammoth shot to deep center for the win

Despite losing two starting position players in two night, and forcing an extension of the Jason Johnson era, there was a fantastic little caveat to this game that makes me happy: next year's 3-4-5 in the lineup. Specifically, Wily Mo makes me smile. Can you imagine, as a pitcher, tiptoeing your way around Manny and Ortiz like you've had to the last four year before running into a slugger like Wily Mo? If Wily Mo hits like he was last night and the beginning of the season, that is going to be one hell of a turn through the rotation for American League pitchers. Last night, these three combined for 7 hits and a walk with a double, a triple, and four home runs. They combined for as many extra base hits as they did for outs they made. They had 9 RBI compared to 6 outs. 7-13, 22 total bases. Yikes.

As to the trade deadline, I think it is probably best that the Sox didn't make a move. While most of our upper level pitching prospects are gone (and now are excellent major league rookies), I'm glad that we still have the cheap potential in Portland and Pawtucket instead of a short-term rental. The Sox as currently constituted have about as good a chance as any team out there to win the world series and most certainly have the talent to make the playoffs (barring the continued attrition of players). By not moving for any major pieces, the exciting youth movement will continue into the future, allowing the Sox to go out and spend on the few pieces they can't grow themselves.

On that note, I had a pretty wacky thought. Imagine if the Sox decided to go Yankee-crazy with free agent deals this winter. Sure, it would never happen, but just think about how fun it would be if the Sox went out and signed Zito AND Schmidt. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the Sox could get Zito for $16.5mm per year for 4 or $17 per for 3, and take off about $1-$1.5mm for Schmidt. I know that isn't going to happen, but wouldn't a pitching rotation in 2007 of Schilling, Beckett, Zito, Schmidt, Lester/Wakefield with Papelbon, Hansen, Delcarmen, and Snyder in the bullpen be pretty freakin' spectacular? And with Schilling and possibly Wakefield coming off the books after the year, that $64mm for those 10 guys would shrink to $44 for 8 guys. Just trade Clement for a B- prospect and the bulk of his salary to clear the roster spot. Alright, daydreaming is over.

Oh, and a side note, I was right about Bowden being a complete idiot. Now, the pressure is on him to resign Soriano to avoid looking like a complete and utter jackass. Now, based on the Christian Guzman signing, his trade demands, and the rest of his professional tenure, I'm guessing he gives Soriano a 5-year $82.5 million contract. And he'll probably get a no-trade clause and either a player option for a 6th year and/or a vesting club option. Seriously, you just watch. The pressure is on Bowden to show that he did, in fact, think that Soriano was worth keeping instead of getting a real prospect. Remember, the guy is trying to showcase himself to a new ownership group, and turning Soriano into a draft pick isn't going to cut it. With that in mind, I fully expect Bowden to go $16 or $16.5 a year for a guy with no defensive position and crappy OBP. Again, is Soriano a good player? Yes, he is. Is he worth 2+ top tier prospect and/or $16mm a year? No, he isn't. He should be about a $12-$14 range on a 3-year contract with a club option for a 4th.

Oh, and one last thing: I'm not the kind of person who would suggest that the Yanks getting Abreu doesn't make them a better team or that they may now be a better team than the Sox, with whom they are currently tied in the loss column (though the Sox now have 2 wins in hand). However, I would like to show you the salaries of their starting nine for the playoffs:

Damon $13mm
Jeter $19mm
Rodriguez $25mm
Matsui $13mm
Sheffield $13mm (likely DH)
Abreu $13mm
Giambi $18mm
Posada $9mm
Cano $0.38mm

So, that is a total of $123,381,000 for a starting lineup. No bench bats, no starting pitchers, no relievers, a starting lineup. When you are one 2b free-agent salary away from the luxury tax just for your starting position players, you should be able to put together a pretty decent team. Considering the Sox have about that level of cost for their 25-man roster, and they are tied, I think the Sox have done pretty well for themselves.