Best wishes for a wonderful 2009

Guys (and girls):

I'm still enjoying some much-needed time away but I wanted to take a moment to say thank you once again to all of you for coming by this year.

(absent from the picture is my little one, age 5)

Thanks also to those of you who have sent me some good articles to read while I am away. I've got a good "reader mail" rant to post and some other interesting links to share/discuss. In fact, I'll open the floor to you guys: If you have something on your mind and would like to craft a guest posting, shoot something my way. Just keep it clean and I'll post it. A fun way to end the year.

I'll come back with a flurry, likely over the weekend as I'll be flying East on New Year's Day.

Best wishes for a safe, healthy and happy 2009, friends!

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It wasn't totally about the money

Of course, that's merely quibbling about a few million over 8 years, less than $1m/year after all:

I've heard from a reliable source that the first baseman turned down about $5 million more from the Nationals to sign with the Yankees. And the Nats would have gone higher, but were never given the chance. Teixeira jumped at Brian Cashman's first offer.

I guess it wasn't ALL about the money - just mostly about it. Being on a contender every year also brings a certain appeal.

I wouldn't exactly say that Teix put the name of this blog to the real test, but at least he gave it a run. Now, if CC took the Brewers offer, THAT would have put my theory in the trash!

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Calling Boras' bluff

Seems that the Yanks held their ground pretty well against Boras, seemingly calling his bluff a few times in the final few hours before signing Teixeira. Kat O'Brien has some good behind-the-scenes stuff:

As for Teixeira, an official involved in negotiations gave a rundown of the back-and-forth between the Yankees and Teixeira's agent, Scott Boras. The Yankees had made a substantially lower offer to Teixeira before the winter meetings; an offer that was quickly pulled once Boras informed the Yankees how much he was seeking. The Red Sox, Nationals, Angels and Orioles bid on Teixeira in the next few weeks, with the Yankees not making another contract offer until late Monday.

Even Tuesday, hours before Teixeira agreed to terms, the Yankees were pessimistic about getting the 28-year-old slugger, the source said. Boras told the Yankees they needed a 10-year deal, with the last two years as player options. That got an absolute no from the Yankees, who had offered eight years and $180 million ($22.5 million per year).

Around midday Tuesday, Boras said Teixeira would agree to an eight-year contract, but only if the average annual value was $24 million per year, making the total contract value $192 million. The Yankees conferred, then told Boras no, that they had made a fair yet firm offer and would hold pat, the source said. Boras responded by saying that Teixeira would likely be a Red Sox. The Yankees refused to budge from their offer, and 20 minutes later, Boras called back and said Teixeira would take their eight-year, $180 million contract offer.

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Happy holidays

I'll be jetting cross country tomorrow morning for a week in sunny, warm San Diego. I'll try (though not too hard) to get something up here if there's any new news to discuss, but otherwise, I'll be on break until after New Year's.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a safe, healthy and happy New Year.

--Jason

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A voice of reason

Shysterball has an excellent take on the Yanks bonanza:

Baseball's prime directive is to be a financially successful and entertaining enterprise, and it has gotten better and better at this even as the Yankees have gone nuclear with their payroll. Some would even argue that there's a causal relationship there. I don't know if that's the case, but it cannot be denied that the Yankees' success and subsequent largess of the past 15 years has correlated remarkably well with the growth of baseball's attendance and revenues.

Maybe that's cold comfort for Blue Jays and Orioles fans, but unless and until the Yankees' spending habits either (a) make a mockery of competitive balance; or (b) send fans away from the game in droves, those habits are not worth worrying about, and I don't see how any of their moves this past month are likely to lead to either of those developments.

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Anatomy of a Yankee Spending Spree

Maury from the Biz of Baseball has an excellent posting about the Yanks entire spending spree and the reasons/enablers that made it all possible. You have to read this. To summarize Maury's reasons:

  • Not Landing Santana
  • Missing the Playoffs for the First Time in 14 Years
  • Shedding Player Payroll in Preparation of an Aggressive Off-Season
  • New Yankee Stadium and Tax-Sheltering
  • The Perfect Spending Storm

Maury's got another entry that lays out the "cartoonish" figures of the Yanks this coming season.

  • The Yankees now have four of the highest contracts in all of MLB (Alex Rodriguez has the largest in all of baseball at $275 million over 10 years, while Derek Jeter is second at $189 million over 9 years, on top of the Teixeira deal and Sabathia deals). Those four have combined contract totals of a staggering $805 million, or $205 million more than the cost of the Mets' Citi Field.
  • The total base salaries of A-Rod ($32 million), Jeter ($20 million), Teixeira ($20 million), and Sabathia ($14 million) for 2009 will be $86 million, or more than the Opening Day payrolls of more than half the league last year (Brewers, Indians, Giants, Reds, Padres, Rockies, Rangers, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Royals, Twins, Nationals, Pirates, Athletics, Rays, and Marlins).
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Portrait of an assassin (reposted)

IIATMS note: This is a repost of something originally posted on 12/4/08. I have decided to repost it due to its relevance given today's news. There's a similar article in SI.com on the subject out as well.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=--

There's a worthwhile read today about Mark Teixeira. In short, he comes across as a calm, stone-cold assassin. And that's not meant as an insult. This is a guy with a plan, an approach, a sense of utter coolness. One of many differences between the successful Yankee teams of recent vintage and the successful RedSox teams is their personality.

Yanks have been called "corporate", "boring", "methodical". The Sox are "dirt dogs", "scrappy", fun-loving". Both are true yet both have their exceptions. And Teixeira would clearly fit snugly in the Yanks clubhouse as he has those same traits. Again, that's not a knock, it's just his personality.

Tex, as he is known, fits the profile of the modern superstar -- polished and savvy, mindful of his image as well as his OPS. He was switch-hitting in elementary school, was a member of the National Honor Society at Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore, went to Georgia Tech and became an assistant player representative in only his second major league season. When he walks into the clubhouse, dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt, the first thing he does is turn off his cellphone so he is not distracted and does not bother anyone else. He says he has a "plan for every day," which requires that he eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before each game and scarf down a Power Bar in the middle innings. "Some people would call me obsessive compulsive," Teixeira says, "but I take my job very seriously and my preparation very seriously. I am not the kind of guy who goes out at night and parties."

If you ask me, I'd take a team of 10 of these guys. Boring assassins. Might not be as much fun as Manny leaving to take a leak in the Monster. More ARod than Manny. I want guys who are committed to themselves and their team first. I never want to question a player's committment. That's what makes Jeter "Jeter"; we know he's going to go all out every day. We don't have to wonder if Jeter will show up or not. We don't have to wonder if Jeter will beg his way out of the lineup.

Worried about his presence and "clutchness"?

When the Angels acquired Teixeira from Atlanta on July 29, they were 11 1/2 games up in the American League West, and some players worried that a new addition would upset clubhouse chemistry. To the contrary, Teixeira led the Angels in every major offensive category after the trade and they set a franchise record for wins (100), with Teixeira showing a free-swinging team how to work deep into counts.
......
At the All-Star break, the Angels ranked 29th in walks. In the second half they ranked 21st. "
He was the perfect guy for their lineup," says Mariners pitcher Jarrod Washburn. The Angels lost to the Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs, but not because of Teixeira. He batted .467 with a .550 on-base percentage in his first postseason series.

If the Yanks are unable to sign Sabathia, I would be totally comfortable with them landing Teix.

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Spare me the salary cap argument

I try to be fair and rational. I love the game of baseball. And I am also a Yankee fan. Those things are in constant conflict and I try like heck to be consistent and logical. Sometimes I succeed, other times I fail.

But the "baseball is doomed", "we need a salary cap", "the Yanks are ruining the game" stuff is just whining. Baseball is healthy. The economy is in the shitter, no question, and it will impact the gate this year. But most of baseball's non-gate revenues are guaranteed TV/Radio/Internet revenues. Fewer people going to the games will end up watching online or with an MLB package. Baseball will continue to thrive, much less survive.

And with a very basic economics background melded with several summers of construction gigs, I can tell you with a ceiling, there must be a floor. Take a look at the 2008 payrolls and you'll see the average of about $90 million per team and a total of $2.7B. There are 17 teams below the average, 13 above. So where is the ceiling and where is the floor?

Select View Full Post to continue reading.

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Merry Teixmas!

As I hoped, postulated, ruminated.... Teixeira will indeed be a Yankee. It seems that they were laying low, waiting for the Boras camp to come a'calling. I'll keep the updates coming as I get them.

Teixeira, who hit .308 with 33 home runs and 121 RBIs in 2008, will receive an eight-year, $180 million deal from the Yankees with a full no-trade provision.

Holy crap. The Evil Empire lives*. If those figures are to be believed, they were on par with Boston, below the Nationals and above the Angels and Orioles. Not quite the "Beltran Offer" but clearly not the highest bid on the table.

Per Buster Olney:

Free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira has reached agreement with the New York Yankees on an eight-year contract worth more than $170 million.

The Yankees swooped in on Teixeira on Tuesday when it was believed the Boston Red Sox or the Washington Nationals were the likeliest of his future employer. The Red Sox's offer was believed to be in the range of $170 million, and the Nationals reached out with an offer perhaps greater than that of Boston.

Said here almost 2 weeks ago:

It just feels like the Yanks are quietly lurking on the Teix scenario. If they, at the last minute, call Boras and tell him they'll match the Nationals 8 year, $160m offer, I can see them walking off with the two best players this offseason, plus at least two other very good pitchers. The Evil Empire striking again.

Obnoxious? You betchya. At least the ownership is committed. Or should be committed. Whatever.

The Lineup:

  1. Damon, LF
  2. Jeter, SS
  3. Teix, 1B
  4. ARod, 3B
  5. Matsui, DH
  6. Nady, RF
  7. Posada, C
  8. Swisher, CF
  9. Cano, 2B

Not sure how the bottom 3-4 guys shake out right now.

Merry Teixmas to all!

* And yes, I know there will be hell to pay if the Yanks don't win it all.

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Maybe you've heard me say this before

Except now it's not coming from my mouth (or keyboard), but from Buster Olney.

Buster on the Yanks lurking, possibly waiting for a "Beltran Offer":

The Yankees made an initial offer to Teixeira, a proposal not close to the others, before they withdrew their bid, and they have maintained contact with the agent, Scott Boras. Three years ago, Carlos Beltran was a free agent, and near the end of his negotiations with the Mets, he offered to sign with the Yankees for a six-year, $96 million deal, or more than $20 million less than what the Mets had offered. The Yankees declined the proposal.

With Teixeira's negotiations with the Red Sox last week, in the failed meeting between the team executives and the player, the Yankees are at least preparing for the possibility that they will be presented with a set of parameters by Teixeira that would bring him to New York. If the first baseman gives the Yankees contract figures that absolutely would result in him signing with the Yankees, they want to be ready to respond.

Buster on the Boras/ARod/Texas parallel:

The Nationals reportedly made an offer of eight years and $160 million to the first baseman, and while some within the organization have privately expressed skepticism about their chances of signing Teixeira, they are viewed as a formidable participant because of their owner's deep pockets. A lingering question throughout these negotiations has been whether Teixeira would be willing to play for the Nationals or the Orioles, teams that figure to struggle in the immediate future, as they rebuild their pitching staffs.

Another Boras client did take a lot more money with a non-contender once -- Alex Rodriguez, who signed a record-setting $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

Stay tuned, they are expecting Teix to make his decision today.

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Fantasy football heartbreak

A bit off-topic, but this is a quick story about my brother's fantasy football team. Feel free to skip it if you hate this stuff.

He was in the finals in his office league and according to him, clearly the favorite. The guy he was playing had the Bears D/ST yet to play. My brother had both kickers playing last night to choose from. We discussed playing Crosby since every kick would doubly hurt the Bears D/ST. We knew neither was a good option though, due to the weather.

Here are his emails to me late last night:

Timestamp: 12/22/2008 10:56 PM
Subject: "Tonite"
Body: That missed FG was worth 4 to me and -1 to my opponent. And I'm down by 5!

Timestamp: 12/22/2008 11:42 PM
Subject: "This kick"
Body: For the title

Timestamp: 12/22/2008 11:57 PM
Subject: "I'm sick"
Body: That missed FG cost me the title.

That, my friends, is pain.

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Oy!

This makes my stomach boil:

"I don't know [Manny Ramirez] personally, with the exception of playing against him and on some All-Star teams," Jeter said. "I know he's had a lot of success everywhere he's gone, and it seems his teams have done been pretty good.

"Not too many people have problems fitting in, I don't think."

I know Jeter is being Jeter-like, trying to say and do the right thing (or the things we want to hear). But adding Manny on a multi-year deal is just a bad idea. As for fitting in, the Cap'n sure did a nice job helping ARod get acclimated, didn't he?

And making it worse, Hank wants Manny for all the wrong reasons:

Hank Steinbrenner is believed to covet Ramirez for the marquee value he would bring to the club and a chance to stick it to the rival Red Sox, for whom Ramirez spent 7+ seasons before last summer's messy divorce.

HANK: YOU ARE PLAYING WIN A FREAKIN' WORLD SERIES, NOT TO WIN THE BACK PAGE WARS OR TO TWEAK THE REDSOX, YOU DIMWIT!

Not to mention, on a team with ARod, Sabathia, Burnett, Jeter, Damon, Matsui, Mo Rivera, Joba... do you really need more marquee value? I need to hit something hard.

Way too much bile this early in the morning. Find it in your heart to forgive me.

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Crazy enough to work?

Since I just got done bashing Boras and Teixeira, I'll ask you, my loyal readers, to answer this one: Would you sooner take the longer term, higher total value contract or the shorter, higher AAV contract?

The opportunity is there, especially after the Red Sox and Angels publicly stated they're out. And though it probably won't work because of the money already on the table from the Nationals and Orioles, there is a rationale that I think makes sense.

Offer Teixeira a 4-year deal worth $102 million. Blow him away with an average annual value of $25.5 million, not far under A-Rod's megadeal. The Yankees get their short-term commitment while Boras gets the big number he's looking for. There are tens of millions left on the table, but here's where it could pay off. The four year deal means Teixeira will hit the open market again at age 32, still in his prime.

Crafty. I can't see Boras letting Teix take it, though. It's not long term enough. Boras would rather the longer term deal with his patented opt-out, methinks. What say you?

Lastly, I have read many defenses/assaults of/on the Yanks and Steinbrenners lately, but I did happen to really like this defense for its brutal honesty, from later in the same article:

For those that think this is overkill after the quarter of a billion dollars they committed to Sabathia and Burnett, I have two words – pipe down. The Yankees have money to spend. This is what they do. So spend it. Who can argue that the players they are adding don't make sense? If the Steinbrenners took all this money that was coming off the books and put it in their pockets, then that would be a greater crime. Other GM's can talk tough, but if any one of their owners came to them and offered an extra $100 million for the payroll, not one would say, "no thanks, we'd prefer to do it the right way."

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Something about history repeating, being doomed

If this is true, it's clear that our boy Teix has no grasp of recent history. He need only look at the ARod deal of 2000 to wonder if he'll find happiness being the big fish in a small, stagnant swamp.

According to multiple sources, the Washington Nationals have sweetened their proposal to first baseman Mark Teixeira, offering him an eight-year deal worth $178 to $184 million.
......
I'm also told that they're willing to go nine years - and there's been talk of 10 - which could be one reason why agent Scott Boras is dragging along negotiations.

Not that I think the Nats are a bad organization, it's just that they are not going to be a contender for at least the next 4-5 years, at best. Right? Straight through the prime of Teix's career arc. And then what?

I know I titled this blog the way I did because it's almost universally true, but when you're talking about generational wealth, not just a lot of money, wouldn't you want to create a legacy to support that wealth? CC proved me right. While the rest of these guys will be merely filthy rich, I'm talking more about the guys like Teix, CC, etc. Generational wealth. Putting your great, great grandkids through college without a worry.

Maybe it's me and my position as a father of two young boys. I'd like be able to look them in the eye (had I been a super, duper star) and tell them that I took a bit less money to put myself in a position to win the World Series just once rather than tell them that I simply did the obvious thing and jumped at the highest bid that my agent could scrape together. I could see my son asking me once I retired: "Dad, how come you didn't want to play for the RedSox (or Yankees or Angels)? Why'd you pick the last place Nationals?" Would I be able to answer him with a straight face and tell him that I only wanted to play near where I grew up as the reason? After all, once you have retired, all you have are the memories of your playing days and the money you've earned. What's the practical difference between $175m and $160m in 15 years? Hell, put the money in the wrong spot and it could be equal. The only difference are the memories and the legacy you create. For image conscious guys like ARod and Teix, to forego this chance to chase the last dollar strikes me as odd, as if they have been brainwashed.

Going to DC, just as ARod followed Boras and the money to Texas, would be a terrible, regrettable move for Teixeira. And a move I hope he makes (because seeing him in Boston won't make me feel too good!). Then Boras can come and rescue him in a few years and place him in Boston or NY so he can proclaim that's where he always wanted to be in the first place (but lacked the stones to do it when the opportunity was at his doorstep).

I still say he lands up in Boston. It should be fun to watch Boston bump a Gold Glove 1B out of that position to bump their WS MVP out of the lineup into some dump trade, all in the name of Theo The Smart.

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Quick thoughts on Manny, Teix

There are some interesting reports out there today that I could only call misinformation. Once there are some more concrete things to discuss, I'll dive deeper. But for now, let's just quickly mention the two hot topics du jour.

  1. Manny expects a 3 year offer from the Yanks in the neighborhood of $75m dollars. If this happens, I might have to auction off my allegiance to this team. Manny also expects the Tooth Fairy to arrive, the Easter Bunny to bring him chocolates and Santa to be readying his sled for his Wednesday night run.
  2. The Angels have reported backed out of the Teixeira 'sweepstakes' for feeling used. I love Arte Moreno, but he's sounding awfully sensitive here. There's no way the Nats or Orioles end up Teix unless they come in with an over-the-top offer like the Yanks had to do to get CC. The Sox, despite claiming "not to be major factors" in this, WILL in fact be major factors. Unless the Yanks decide to get more piggish (which many didn't think possible), I don't see them landing Teix. Boras reportedly told Cashman it would take eight years and $180 million to $185 million to sign Teixeira. That's ridiculous. I would LOVE to have Teix --who wouldn't?-- but at some point, don't you have to say no? I mean, I'd love a Maserati, but it's just out of my fiscal reach. [Maybe more than "just", towards the area of "way".]

    I can see Cashman & Co. making a strong offer (8 years, $21m per) as their "first and final" offer. If the Sox want to reach for 8 years and $180m on what amounts to a luxury item for them, power to them. If you have to trade your WS MVP who has 2 years and have to eat much of the $24m he's still owned in order to add Teixeira, then that's a luxury. Face it. I might have to dust off my Evil Empire II rant.


UPDATE
: From Buster's blog today:

The Yankees made an initial offer that was believed to be markedly less than what the other offers have been, and since then they have withdrawn that offer. They are pushing to cut their payroll in 2009, and they cannot sign Teixeira and accomplish that unless they could dump the contract of Hideki Matsui and others, in a market flush with corner outfielders. Their focus continues to be on starting pitching, and at some point they could re-engage a free agent who could come cheaply.
......
And that brings us back to the Red Sox, who sources say were prepared to pay Teixeira something in the range of $170 million to $175 million as club executives flew to Texas, and who might be nudged to $180 million. But they seem to be talking at the idea of throwing out a $200 million deal to the first baseman.

Here's a number to keep in mind: $189 million. That's the value of the contract signed by Derek Jeter after the 2000 season. Scott Boras, Teixeira's agent, is very aware of benchmarks, and so a $190 million contract would surpass Jeter's deal in total dollars.

Does Teixeira really have lots of offers for more than what the Red Sox are offering? Clearly, Boston doesn't think so. Only Boras knows for sure.

It seems that the game has played itself out, the last cards have been dealt, and now Teixeira is in position to make his decision.

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Happy 1st Birthday, IIATMS

Happy 1st birthday to the blog. It's been an incredible first year. Thank you all for coming by, visiting, hanging out, debating, challenging, etc. Those are the reasons why I do this and why I have so much fun doing it.

Since I haven't yet began to feel any burnout, I'll keep this going. I hope to get some more interviews with current and former players/coaches/agents. Being able to bring their perspectives to you was a lot of fun. I'll try to do more of that.

I'll also try to keep things fun as much as possible.

I'd be remiss if I didn't offer a big thank you to Craig from ShysterBall for all of his help and chatter during this past year. And to my most loyal readers, keep the comments and emails coming!

Thanks again for coming by. I appreciate it!

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How to blow up your career

Quite simply, screw over the universally respected John Schuerholz with shifty and sneaky dealings:

John Schuerholz, the Braves president and former general manager, Thursday called the dealings of Furcal's agents "despicable" and "disgusting" and said the franchise would no longer entertain signing players represented by them – ever.

Having been in this business for 40-some years, I've never seen anybody treated like that," Schuerholz said. "The Atlanta Braves will no longer do business with that company – ever. I told [agent] Arn Tellem that we can't trust them to be honest and forthright. I told him that in all my years, I've never seen any [agency] act in such a despicable manner.

"It was disgusting and unprofessional. we're a proud organization, and we won't allow ourselves to be treated that way. I advised Arn Tellem that whatever players he represents, just scratch us off the list. Take the name of the Atlanta Braves off their speed dial. They can deal with the other 29 clubs, and we'll deal with the other hundred agents.

Agent Paul Kinzer, the lead agent in the Furcal deal, works directly for Tellem. Tellem reported heaved Kinzer under the bus in trying to explain away Kinzer's actions to Wren and Scheurholz. Kinzer's reputation is in shambles after this one. In listening to Joel Sherman on XM yesterday, he had his great line: "I'm writing about this tomorrow. Would you like me to call you an idiot or a liar?"

I'm digging a bit more on this and have a call into an agent for their views on the ethics and conditions behind these sorts of actions. If I can get some additional color, you'll know!

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Premature rumination

I penned a long rambling post last night after learning about an 8 year, $184m offer the Sox had put on the table for Teix. Then I awoke to this:

Red Sox owner John Henry e-mailed several media members late tonight with a stunning twist in the team's pursuit of free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Henry's words: "We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him. After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."

Earlier tonight, multiple news outlets reported the Red Sox had traveled to Texas to meet with Teixeira and his agent, Scott Boras, in the hopes of trying to finalize a deal. WCVB-TV Channel 5 reported that the Red Sox had offered Teixeira an eight-year deal worth $184 million (an average of $23 million per season).

I've pulled my initial posting for the time being, in full disclosure. Should this ploy by Henry be just a bluff, I'll dust it off and toss it back out there.

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