Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Killing the pain

1) Well, it's official: I am now a cyborg. After about 9 days of trouncing around with a heavy and loose-fitting splint, I am now into one of those massive bionic boots. So look for me sporting an always fashionable black boot to compliment my year-old New Balance sneaker. And even though the promise of being able to put some of my ample weight down on the leg is still a dream for another day (still somewhat excruciating), and the swelling is still making my foot look a little like a tick that just had its fill, the bruising has thankfully started to dissipate. Now, instead of being a sickening deep purple, my skin now sports a delightful faux-Asian yellow hue.

2) Just for the record, The Resident Female is a trooper. In the span of 4 days, she drove 24 hours in heavy traffic and heavy rain with one headlight out. 24 hours in 4 days, which, if my calculations are correct, is roughly 22 hours per day (Serious, at 25% of the time behind the wheel, the girl deserve massive congrats). Highlight of the trip was when there was an accident a few cars ahead of us, she slammed on the brakes, and I (sitting in the back seat so I could put my leg up) was flung full force into the back of her seat. Note: this was my first experience as a projectile, and I didn't like it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Joy of Armpit Sores

Despite the fact that Fletcher generally moves with a certain quite dignity, a form of grace in motion akin to the nimbleness of a cat, the sure-footedness of a mountain goat, the beauty-in-motion of a Special Olympics Triathalete, Saturday night I seem to have proved myself incapable of successfully navigating a flight of stairs.

Yes, after a thoroughly enjoyable night at the MCI (Verizon) center watching what the Resident Female thought was going to be a free hockey game that her boss had given her tickets for (it turned out that it was a basketball contest. Oops.), we were rushing down an escalator to try to catch the train that had just pulled into the station. Of course, the escalator was off, the bottom step had about a half an inch raise over the flat ones, and my foot was not prepared for the unevenness of that step. And down I went.

The good news is that we did in fact make the train. The bad news is that by the time we got to my metro stop, I was barely able to walk out to the street. I was unable to complete the walk and the Resident Female actually had to go get in the car and pick me up while I leaned against a wall and wept like a little girl.

So, after a few hours in the ER, I discover that I broke my ankle. While I still have to see an Orthopedist, it appears I likely will need a soft cast, likely will not need surgery, and amputation is pretty much off the table.

Of course, I was planning on making the road trip to RI twice in the next month, with a third trp by flight thrown in between. So, that should be fun, as I am currently about as mobile as an Oprah-sized shut-in. As such, I am deeply inconveniencing the Resident Female by having her skip taking the train and instead driving me to RI, staying for the night, then driving to her mother's on Turkey Day.

The moral, as always, is leave it to Fletcher to screw things up for everyone else. Although if she gets really mad about it, I could always just crush up one of the pain meds they gave me and sprinkle it over her cereal...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

To reply

To compliment my response to Steady B's response to my response to Steady B, here is some more on the contract, taken from this insider article (thanks again, Dorf!):

"So I expect that the Red Sox are going to offer something in the four years, $9 million-a-year range," said the official, "but maybe try to work out a six-year deal in order to get the average annual value of the total package down -- say, like six years at $10 million, which would get the AAV down below $20 million [$51.11 million bid, plus $60 million in salary].

"Boras basically is in an impossible situation, because nobody wants the negotiations to break down and have this guy go back to Japan. Seibu doesn't want him back, because they want to keep the $51 million. Matsuzaka doesn't want to go back, and a $10 million a year offer is a 300 percent raise for him over what he made in Japan. Major League Baseball wants him to stay, of course, because of the interest he's generated."

"The only way Boras could get real leverage in the negotiations, besides threatening to return to Japan, would be if commissioner Bud Selig determines that the Red Sox are not acting in good faith in negotiations; Selig is the only party in this matter with the power to award negotiation rights to another team. "And do you think that the commissioner is going to step in and say that an offer of four years, $36 million is not fair to Matsuzaka?" said the official. "Of course not. He's livid about the bidding to begin with, about the possible overall cost being far more than $20 million a year. Do you really think he would step in to rescue Scott Boras?"

I'd rather roll the Dais than sign Kris Benson

Edited 10:50 AM

My dearest Steady B,
While I do agree that the Red Sox are spending a whole buttload of dollars for an unknown and unproven quantity, I must disagree with your sentiment that 1) The Sox are going to get hosed on the price by Boras and 2) They are setting the bar for pitching much higher than otherwise expected as egregiously (or more so) than the Mets did with Benson. Bear with me for the following arguments:

1) While Boras is a great negotiator and has sucked more nickels out of his target than an Atlantic City hooker, this is a different case than a free agent. For starters, the Sox will not face him saying "Yeah, well, I just got off the phone with another team that is offering double what you are for twice the years and a 10% stake of ownership with the ball club." Basically, Dice is facing two prospects right now: the Sox at $9-$14mm per year, or Siebu at $3.5. Plus, the guy has been so excited to play in the majors since he was in high school that he has been begging to be posted for 2 or 3 years. The main worry I have about the negotiations is that Boras may go short on years (rumor is he wants a 3 year deal so that Dice hits the Market at age 29, though he probably will sign for 4). Granted, a shorter deal kicks up his average annual cost, but it also gives the Sox 2 distinct advantages: they can turn this around on Boras and lower his average annual salary by accepting a shorter deal, and they will have 2-3 years to see if he actually reaches his potential (early growing pains aside) and still have a year to hammer out another long-term deal. If the deal is short, it doesn't mean he will be a free agent, just that the Sox will have to extend him a bit earlier (and having invested $51mm just to talk to him is a great incentive to extend him unless he is a total bust). My predictions is he either goes 3 years $32mm or 4 years at $44mm.

2) The money is not as critical moving forward due to luxury tax and past moves, though it is not a sunk cost, and it will come back in it's own right. The Sox, having failed in negotiations with Clemens, Damon, and Pedro, have a lot more money sitting around than they expected. Over the last 3 years, they have been much more profitable than at any time in their history, and they haven't made the huge outlays in cash that they were expecting too because they haven't really signed anyone to a big money deal. Words is they probably have most of the money sitting around. Additionally, since this is a one-time fee that doesn't affect the luxury tax, this will not hurt them moving forward the way a bad contract could (note: this is a different concept than 'Sunk Cost'). With a bad contract, unless it is front-loaded, you have to incorporate it into your budget going forward, and it affects you both in that a) future revenue is earmarked to pay for a player who is either underperforming and hurting the team or worse is not even playing so you are paying twice for the position and b) if you are close to the luxury tax, makes other signings and contracts more expensive (i.e. making a $10mm/year FA signing actually a $14mm/year player from a budget standpoint). The post fee does niether, as it doesn't count towards the luxury tax (so it doesn't hinder contracts in other areas others by increasing their cost) and the money doesn't have to come from future revenue. Assuming the Sox have the money in their coffers, there is no problem. If they eat into a little future revenue, the cost gets mitigated going forward. So they are not really paying A-Rod or Manny money every year, just emptying their piggyback now and refilling it going forward.

3) Also, as I mentioned before, some of the posting fee can be viewed as an investment in building a fandom in Japan rather than as an investment in the player. The Sox have little or no revenue from Japan at the moment, but that is about to change. I'll ask A. Sean Feddish (who is currently in Japan) to start looking out for this, but I bet you dollars to doughnuts that there are going to be a whole crap load of Matsuzaka Red Sox t-shirts sitting in drawers next to their "Hello Kitty" counterparts. And that is before Lucky Larry gets his wheels in motion and has every teenager from Sendai to Hokkaido getting Wally the Green Monster dolls for Christmas. Granted, I don't think the Japanese market is going to provide $51mm in the near future, but the returns will mitigate the outlays in the coming months, moreso than a traditional FA signing does with new merchandizing sales of an American or Dominican.

4) Matsuzaka is quite possibly the best pitcher on the market, and young. There aren't many aces on the free-agent horizon, especially at age 26. With all respect due to Kris Benson, or Gil Meche, or whomever, Matsuzaka has the potential to be the Sox ace for the next decade. The way baseball is currently set up, 26 year olds who even have the potential to be an ace in the leagues do not hit the free agent market. Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Ben Sheets, Brandon Webb, Scott Kazmir, et al will never see the light of Free Agency in their twenties because the market for good pitching is so damn important and even low-revenue teams get $20mm a year from revenue sharing that they lock those guys up until they are 30. For a potential ace to hit free agency at age 26, he would have to come into the league as a rookie when he was 19 or 20, prove that he can stay healthy throughout that whole time, and turn down all the long-terms deal that the team probably has been offering him since arbitration years started. The only other option to get a 26-year old stud pitcher is to trade half your farm system for the guy.

5) The market this year and next is crap. Schmidt is an NL refugee who is aged 34 today, and likely will get 5 years thrown his way. Zito has pitched his entire career in a pitchers park and gets lit up like a joint at a Phish concert every time he gets near an AL East lineup (something like a 6+ ERA against the Sox and Yanks). And both those guys are going for a lot of years at a lot of money. After that, you are just plugging holes with question marks. And nobody else worthwhile and young is on the market next year, either.

6) All apologies, but the wacky Kris Benson contract trend continued through last year and was going to do so this year, anyhow. Before the posting numbers were out, there was already talk that Justin Speier (Just Freaking Speier!) was going to probably get $10-$12mm per year. Just from last year, Kevin Millwood is averaging $12mm per year. Matt Morris and Paul Byrd are making $9 and $7mm, respectively, to put up their near 5 ERAs (note: please no Beckett jokes here). Hell, the Sox have to pay $8.5mm to Clement, who is probably note even going to make the team. I mean, the Orioles just willingly took Jaret Wright in exchange for a young reliever when he would have become a FA in 20 minutes. Maybe the Kris Benson signing is not so bad in retrospect, but we are in a market where there are no good pitchers available for anything less than 3 or 4 excellent prospects and crappy starters are going to get three years at $9mm per just for showing up. I mean, teams are actually going to be apologizing to their fans for not signing Jeff Freaking Suppan to bolster their rotation. Pitching is never dependable in the FA market, but at this point Dice is the guy with the best upside, including the potential to be an ace for more than 2 or 3 years. To get that from anywhere else in the market, you are giving up $17mm per year for 5 or 6 years, plus every good prospect you have above AA.

7) All that said, if he gets hurt out of the gate or sucks massive ass, this could be a really bad deal for the Sox.

Edited 10:50 AM

Just thought I would throw up an excerpt from this article, as well:

I leave you with the simplest interview ever conducted, yet I find it absolutely hilarious.
Q. What do you know about the Red Sox?A. It is a team with history, with the oldest stadium. Babe Ruth, Cy Young, and Ted Williams played there, to name a few.
Q. How would you react to Red Sox fans “booing”? A. If you can’t perform, you deserve it. I want to get good numbers and hope to get booed at away games.
Q. What is your impression of Boston? A. Never been there, but it has famous universities, museums and hospitals. I’ll like it.
Welcome to Boston, Daisuke.

Also pointed out in the article that, in 2009 the Sox could have a rotation with 5 of the following 7 guys: Beckett, Papelbon, Matsuzaka, Lester, Micheal Bowden, Clay Bucholz, and Daniel Bard. All under 30, only Beckett and Matsuzaka on a large money contract, and only Papelbon in his first year of Arbitration. Tee Hee.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Holy Crap that's a lot of Yen!

1) $51.1mm to buy the negotiating rights for Matsuzaka. So the Red Sox essentially paid Johnny Damon's contract for the mere rights to negotiate with a guy that has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues (and, interestingly enough, uses a pitch that has never been thrown in the major leagues). Granted, I'm pleased that the Sox are getting him instead of the Yankees (or, if they do a sign-and-trade, basically purchasing prospects). I guess we now know what the Sox did with all that Pedro/Damon/Clemens money that they decided not to spend.

2) Another reason this move makes good sense: the money doesn't count against the luxury tax. The Red Sox, along with about 4 or 5 other franchises, have the financial ability to actually carry out large contracts. Despite what some media might say in the coming days, this posting fits in perfectly with the organizational philosophy that the Sox have been flogging. The Sox have stressed building a farm system and have cheap players, young players with bright futures littering their roster. The Sox were not doing that to reduce payroll and try to get by with a $60mm payroll. They are stressing this so that they can afford to post massive sums of money for foreign players, young free agents, and other guys not on the downslope of their career. Fancy this: Matsuzaka is 26. He is the same age as Beckett and Papelbon. These are the type of player the Sox are targeting, and in this case they had an opportunity to flex their finances and essentially purchase a player without giving up any talent, made partially possible by letting Pedro and Damon age on the fields in New York. The Sox don't want to be in situations where they are paying for production up front in lieu of having long money still in players that are old and no longer viable players on a championship level (that is why Trot is taking a walk).

3) Also of note is that the posting fee will likely make some of the money back for the Sox. I bet that the $12-$18mm that the Sox outbid the Yanks will come back in ad revenue and other marketing opportunities in Japan, moreso than the Yankees would have recieved (mostly because they already have a pretty decent market penetration because of Matsui). Of course, if the Sox really want to capitalize on the market, they could also go after Iwamura...

4) Of course, if the Sox splurged on the posting fee and it has a negative affect on their ability to operate on the open market this winter (Maybe JD Drew?), well, then, that might not be ideal.

5) Look at this guy:

This is Mowgli. This is the newest addition to the McGuffin family, as my brother and his wife recently got him. Cute as all heck, eh?

(note: my brother's previous canine was named Bahgeera. Just a hunch, but I bet his third dog will be named Baloo).

Monday, November 13, 2006

It really does hurt when it cracks

Watch this video clip. It is very frightening.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Political Humor and Phlegm

1) It's nice to see voting irregularities are still going on. Damn electronic voting machines. In Virginia, I tried to vote for Webb, but I ended up accidentily voting across the board for the "Female Circumcision Party". It was an easy mistake to make in the Allen vs. Webb race, as the decision came down to voting for a racist or a mysoginist, and, well, I wanted to vote for the guy who promised he would make West Point into a horny woman's dream (assuming they release the videos). It looks like there is going to be a recount, but Webb has about an 8,000 vote lead as most of the result trickle in.

2) So my doctor said yesterday that I have a viral infection of my chest lining, which is inflaming the cartiledge between my ribs. So, whenever I cough, it feels like I am being sat on by Azamat (thank goodness I shaved today). Essentially, the cold has simulated the experience of having a dozen or so cracked ribs (seriously). I've heard of a cold kicking your ass, but I've never knew that meant you might actually end up with an ass-kicked injury.

3) A guy in my program, the Montana Banana (note: he is blonde), recently broke up with his red-headed girlfriend of several years and decided about 2 weeks later to jump right back into a relationship with another red-head. Now, while there are plenty of jokes and insinuations I could make about the whole red-head fetish he appears to have (e.g. he is leaving a trail of burnt sienna in his wake), I am more shocked at the quizzical and quixotic decision to leap out of one relationship and dive head-first into a new one with a girl he just met. Now, I appreciate how good "new relationship" sex is, and any opportunity to maximize it in the first month should be taken up, it still appears to me that he has consciously decided to leap out of the frying pan and into the firecrotch.