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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Rosenthal: Sources: Red Sox nearing deal with Smoltz

John Smoltz is leaving Atlanta for the most stunning of destinations.

The Boston Red Sox.

Smoltz, 41, is on the verge of signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Red Sox, according to major-league sources.

The deal also will include $4.5 million in incentives, giving Smoltz the chance to earn a total of $10 million, sources said.

With Smoltz, who is coming off shoulder surgery, the Red Sox would have six veteran starters.

The team’s rotation currently includes Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny.

Thanks to Schuck Chilling

Repoz Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:10 AM | 273 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, red sox

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   1. Darren Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:18 AM (#3046054)
Most stunning? Boston's probably in my top 5 guesses for where he might go.

Does this mean Wake is cooked? Buc to Texas? Masterson to Az?
   2. MM1f Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:23 AM (#3046055)
Oh hell no.
   3. aleskel Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:25 AM (#3046057)
not to be outdone, the Yankees have contacted Doyle Alexander's agent
   4. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:26 AM (#3046058)
MASSIVE FISTPUMP

Hopefully there wasn't a bonus clause based on how many terrorists he disarmed. That would really bankrupt the franchise.

This is how it works:
Byung-Hyung Kim makes Derek Lowe look like Jack Bauer
Derek Lowe makes Curt Schilling look like Jack Bauer
And John Smoltz makes Curt Schilling look like a pX$$y

Pedro is still Pedro though
   5. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:28 AM (#3046059)
If Smoltz regains his stuff, this would be a hell of a pickup for the Red Sox. You won't have to worry about the league switch if he's healthy. Of course, health is the big unknown.
   6. Willie Mayspedes Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:28 AM (#3046060)
most stunning


Most NON-BOGUS!
Most TRIUMPHANT!!
Most EXCELLENT!!!

My name is John Andrew Smoltz, and we are the wild idiots!!!!
   7. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:39 AM (#3046066)
And Atlanta's off-season just keeps getting better.
   8. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:47 AM (#3046068)
Smoltz is worth that much more than Giambi? Looks like Jason picked the wrong day to stop being a 41 year-old coming after shoulder surgery.
   9. Mike A Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:48 AM (#3046070)
Dang. Thanks for the memories, John, and good luck.
   10. MM1f Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:51 AM (#3046074)
Looks like Jason picked the wrong day to stop being a 41 year-old coming after shoulder surgery.

More like he picked the wrong day to stop being a great baseball player.
   11. Juan V Posted: January 08, 2009 at 05:54 AM (#3046076)
Never mind...
   12. Sam M. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:00 AM (#3046078)
Some random thoughts:

1) Sad for the Braves. The old-fashioned romantic in me thought it would have been nice if just one of the Big 3 would have spent his whole career in their uni. After 3400 IP, it almost happened.

2) Competitively, it certainly doesn't weaken them vis-a-vis the 2008 Braves. Obviously, they didn't get much out of him that they're going to miss. But it may well weaken them compared to what they might have been; only time will tell.

3) This surely would eliminate whatever slim hopes that Boras has to get the Sox involved in bidding for Lowe. Of course, those hopes were already pretty much dead.

4) They're planning to sign him as a starter??? I just don't know if his arm is likely to be able to hold up to 80-100 pitches a game. Just guessing here, but I think Smoltz's odds of holding up as a reliever for a full year probably would be a bit better.
   13. Dave Spiwak Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:03 AM (#3046081)
And Atlanta's off-season just keeps getting better.


Signing Andruw Jones will help kick-start the healing process.
   14. ekogan Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:04 AM (#3046082)
With Penny, Smoltz and Baldelli the Sox have filled out all 3 spots on their IR list for less than $15 mil per year.
Good work.
   15. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:19 AM (#3046086)
Sad for the Braves. The old-fashioned romantic in me thought it would have been nice if just one of the Big 3 would have spent his whole career in their uni. After 3400 IP, it almost happened.


My money is on Smoltz never throwing a pitch for Boston. Thus, he still retires a life-long Brave.
   16. Tripon Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:35 AM (#3046092)
My money is on Smoltz never throwing a pitch for Boston. Thus, he still retires a life-long Brave.


Easiest five million ever made! Shilling must be wondering why the Red Sox isn't handing him another $5 million to blog about his life.
   17. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:39 AM (#3046093)
My money is on Smoltz never throwing a pitch for Boston.

I agree. But...still...gut punch, man. Gut punch.
   18. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:41 AM (#3046094)
Easiest five million ever made! Shilling must be wondering why the Red Sox isn't handing him another $5 million to blog about his lif


Well, I just have my doubts about anyone that is 41 years old coming back from shoulder surgery so fast as to contribute at the major league level in 12 months.

Now if Smoltz is back and productive, I sure hope Kelvim Escobar has the same kind of luck!
   19. Tripon Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:51 AM (#3046100)
Not to keep on raining on the Braves, but what happens to Chipper Jones at the end of the year? Will the Braves let him walk?
   20. andrewberg Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:54 AM (#3046103)
Easiest five million ever made! Shilling must be wondering why the Red Sox isn't handing him another $5 million to blog about his life.


The Sox signed an aging pitcher with shoulder problems and experience in the rotation and the bullpen, he never pitched, and they came very close to winning a pennant. That was clearly a crucial part of last season's success which the team wants to replicate as precisely as possible.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2009 at 06:55 AM (#3046104)
Really, $5.5 M guaranteed to a guy you're not even sure can pitch. But not enough green to sign Teixeira.
   22. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 07:05 AM (#3046110)
With Smoltz, who is coming off shoulder surgery, the Red Sox would have six veteran starters.

The team’s rotation currently includes Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny.


The more I look at this - the more crazy it becomes. That group of guys is really closer to three starters and three question marks. Counting on Wakes, Penny and Smoltz in 2009 to fill out a rotation is not terribly comforting if I'm a Sox fan. Of course, Masterson seems like the goods, so maybe Penny and Smoltz become high-priced cheerleaders.

Really, $5.5 M guaranteed to a guy you're not even sure can pitch. But not enough green to sign Teixeira.


No kidding, Walt. That is a lot of scratch for a big question mark.
   23. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: January 08, 2009 at 07:12 AM (#3046113)
But not enough green to sign Teixeira.

Well, Tex got a no-trade clause from the Yanks as well, not to mention his wife's leash on him.
   24. Baldrick Posted: January 08, 2009 at 07:47 AM (#3046124)
People think this is a bad deal? Makes a lot of sense to me. $5.5 million is a lot, sure, but it's only for one year (which makes comments about not being able to sing Teixeira seem pretty irrelevant to the question at hand). And Smoltz is really a very good pitcher. There's every chance he can still put up great numbers - the issue is health more than anything.

So if a middle-case scenario is 100 quality innings and then an injury, I think I'd take the deal. They've got rotation depth, but some all-star quality pitching would really help, even if it's only part of the year. Worst case scenario is that he's totally useless and you're out 5 million. Which would be bad, of course, but doesn't seem like it would seriously constrain other necessary moves. Best case scenario: he repeats his 2007 and they win the World Series.
   25. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 08, 2009 at 10:28 AM (#3046167)
Wait, the Red Sox signed Baldelli? I missed that one.
   26. Paxton Crawford Ranch Posted: January 08, 2009 at 10:52 AM (#3046169)
Really, $5.5 M guaranteed to a guy you're not even sure can pitch. But not enough green to sign Teixeira.

How is a $5.5M flier on an all-time great who's NEVER pitched poorly analogous to spending $180M on a position the Sox have filled now and for the foreseeable future?

Without, you know, doing the research, I would bet Smoltz has had the best age 38-41 seasons a pitcher's ever had, even accounting for the 28 innings he pitched last year. Since returning to the rotation, he's put up a 3.20 ERA in 695 innings.

Smoltz is going to be either really good or not pitching. The Red Sox can afford to find out which it is.
   27. jwb Posted: January 08, 2009 at 10:59 AM (#3046171)
One year contract generally aren't guaranteed. Rosenthal doesn't say that this one is.
   28. Colin Posted: January 08, 2009 at 11:01 AM (#3046173)
4) They're planning to sign him as a starter???


Smoltz has made it abundantly clear that he did not like being a reliever as much as he likes being a starter, and in fact thinks that being a starter is easier on his arm.
   29. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 08, 2009 at 01:02 PM (#3046183)
Without, you know, doing the research, I would bet Smoltz has had the best age 38-41 seasons a pitcher's ever had, even accounting for the 28 innings he pitched last year. Since returning to the rotation, he's put up a 3.20 ERA in 695 innings.

Pete Alexander?
   30. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 01:18 PM (#3046186)
Ah, it's amazing how quickly people forget Randy Johnson. He's already one of the most overlooked greatest-of-the-greatest pitchers in history.

Randy Johnson, age 38-41 (including only half a mediocre season at 39): 845.3 innings, 3.06 ERA, 960 K, 189 BB.
   31. jcallicutt Posted: January 08, 2009 at 01:29 PM (#3046187)
Well, that's a great way to ruin a morning. Thanks for the memories, John.

Now, the big question is: What in the hell are the Braves doing? Is Frank asleep? Is he still pouting about having Furcal "stolen"? Has he just given up? I don't get it. If John wants to pitch for a contender, why not sign the same deal with Atlanta with the understanding that if the Braves are out of it (which they will be) in July, he will be traded? I mean doesn't Atlanta have buckets of cast to spend this offseason?

Bad times for Braves fans. Pete retired. Skip dead. TBS gone. Smoltz a Red Sock.
   32. Kyle S Posted: January 08, 2009 at 01:32 PM (#3046189)
This is just awful. Ugh.
   33. karlmagnus Posted: January 08, 2009 at 01:37 PM (#3046190)
I have to say that with Baldelli and Smoltz, if these deals happen, they've just about doubled the appeal of the team to this fan at least. Minus Manny, it was very short on pizzazz, which neither Youk nor Pedroia have, and these guys bring in spades (defining pizzazz is tough -- basically something that adds significantly, independently of mathematically analyzable baseball skill, to the interest in watching the team; Maddux had it, Glavine not, Baldelli yes, Teix and Bay not. Call me irrational!)
   34. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:14 PM (#3046197)
1) Sad for the Braves. The old-fashioned romantic in me thought it would have been nice if just one of the Big 3 would have spent his whole career in their uni. After 3400 IP, it almost happened.


True. it's a travesty that the longest continually operating MLB franchise can boast only Rick Camp, Bruce Benedict, and Biff Pocoroba as its best "entire career" players. Only the Blue jays, Rangers, and the 90's expansion teams have worse candidates. I really thought they had finally gotten over the hump with Smoltz.
   35. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:27 PM (#3046203)
True. it's a travesty that the longest continually operating MLB franchise can boast only Rick Camp, Bruce Benedict, and Biff Pocoroba as its best "entire career" players. Only the Blue jays, Rangers, and the 90's expansion teams have worse candidates. I really thought they had finally gotten over the hump with Smoltz.

Wow. I'm stumped when trying to think of an Oakland A who spent an entire career with the team. Mike Norris? Is he the best we have? I might have to dig into this today. I'm sure it will be depressing.
   36. Guapo Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:31 PM (#3046204)
He's just moving up there for the legal gay marriages.
   37. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:34 PM (#3046205)
One year contract generally aren't guaranteed. Rosenthal doesn't say that this one is.

What is this based on? Arbitration awards aren't guaranteed, but I'm pretty sure that all other major league contracts are. Rosenthal might not specifically say that this is guaranteed, but other reports are calling the $5.5M guaranteed.

Anyway, if the Red Sox get a dozen starts each from Smoltz, Penny and Wakefield, they will have spent around $15M for the equivalent of one very good #3 starter without having to make a long-term commitment. That seems like a much better strategy than paying one guy $15M.
   38. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:49 PM (#3046207)
I'm a broken record on this but I really wish we'd just sign Ben Sheets. I'll assume the Sox know more about his medical status than I do but geez, I really want him and I'm no longer rational on this subject. Every one of these guys we get reduces the likelihood of Sheets.
   39. flournoy Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3046208)
This really hurts.

And now I can't even wear my Smoltz shirt for a year or two either.

This is the worst offseason ever. Worse than '02-'03, even.
   40. Famous Original Joe C Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:53 PM (#3046209)
If...big if, Wake isn't done,

Beckett
Matsuzaka
Lester
Penny
Smoltz
Wakefield
Buchholz
Masterson
Bowden

is a nice cadre of pitching depth, even if Smoltz may not pitch and Penny, well, who knows.
   41. RJ in TO Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:53 PM (#3046210)
Anyway, if the Red Sox get a dozen starts each from Smoltz, Penny and Wakefield, they will have spent around $15M for the equivalent of one very good #3 starter without having to make a long-term commitment. That seems like a much better strategy than paying one guy $15M.


If each guy is only healthy enough to make a dozen starts, isn't it a lot more likely that those starts will be of lower quality than a #3 starter?
   42. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 02:57 PM (#3046211)
Man, it's lucky that every team in major league baseball operates under the same operational metrics and in the same market. It's good that some teams can't afford to guarantee five and a half million on the chance that a guy will be available for the playoff run while others have to budget their dollars for players that might play all year. That would be some sort of market inequity or something, and we all know those don't really exist in MLB.

With that said...

Not to keep on raining on the Braves, but what happens to Chipper Jones at the end of the year? Will the Braves let him walk?

That depends on Jordan Schafer, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and (perhaps) Jake Peavy. Smoltz leaving is an emotional blow to the franchise, certainly. He, more than anyone, was the face of the team post-Glavine. He and Chipper were the last player connections to the '95 WS team and Smoltz was the last player connection to the now-mythical '91 Cinderella story. Smoltz leaving is a final blow to anyone still operating under the misconception that the 2009 Braves were really part of the '91/'95 lineage in anything but name. But from a practical standpoint, it's not that big of a deal. Atlanta has operated all off-season on the assumption that Smoltz and Glavine were nice-to-haves but not must-haves, due to their age and health. It's more of an emotional blow to see Smoltz go somewhere else, but pragmatically it's the same as if he never came off the DL, which was the rational assumption all winter anyway. (Now, if he's pitching well in October it will hurt a lot more, but that will still be an emotional rather than rational response.)

Chipper now becomes the final leg of the storied history. We all know what he brings and what he leaves behind. When he's healthy, he's one of the five best everyday players in baseball. When he's not, he's Martin Prado. If Atlanta brings in Lowe and an outfielder not named Andruw, if Hanson continues to impress and establishes himself as a top of the rotation kind of guy in 2009, if Jordan Schafer wraps up his minor league seasoning and takes his expected spot in the OF in Atlanta, then Chipper is likely to re-sign in 2010. If some number of those things don't occur, if Atlanta misses on Lowe again (or can't get Peavy again) or the next wave prospects don't project to impact and compete at the ML level in 2010 then Chipper is just as likely to DH somewhere with a shot to get him another ring. While he's a limited starter in the NL due to his difficulties fielding 3B regularly, Chipper Jones as a DH would be a force for two or three more years. The guy can simply mash at the plate. And it's not hard to imagine a path where he joins Smoltz in Boston as a counter-weight to Tiexiera in NY, next year.

If that happens, Atlanta will be in complete tear-down/rebulid mode. They don't have anyone with the presence of Chipper to anchor the lineup and none of their primary prospects projects to do so. Heyward, maybe, in 2011 or 2012. But no one before then, IMHO.
   43. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:01 PM (#3046213)
"Sad for the Braves. The old-fashioned romantic in me thought it would have been nice if just one of the Big 3 would have spent his whole career in their uni. After 3400 IP, it almost happened."

It'd be sadder if he hadn't been drafted, signed, and developed by the Tigers.
   44. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:01 PM (#3046214)
Bad times for Braves fans. Pete retired. Skip dead. TBS gone. Smoltz a Red Sock.


Agreed. Not to mention losing out on Furcal, and still being stuck with Francoeur.
   45. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:01 PM (#3046216)
It's good that some teams can't afford to guarantee five and a half million on the chance that a guy will be available for the playoff run while others have to budget their dollars for players that might play all year. That would be some sort of market inequity or something, and we all know those don't really exist in MLB.
The Braves ownership *has* plenty of money. They *can* afford these things. They *choose* not to.
   46. JC in DC Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:03 PM (#3046217)
Man, it's lucky that every team in major league baseball operates under the same operational metrics and in the same market. It's good that some teams can't afford to guarantee five and a half million on the chance that a guy will be available for the playoff run while others have to budget their dollars for players that might play all year. That would be some sort of market inequity or something, and we all know those don't really exist in MLB.


Sniff
   47. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:06 PM (#3046219)
It'd be sadder if he hadn't been drafted, signed, and developed by the Tigers.

Please. Drafted? Yes. Signed? Yes. Developed? No. Smoltz spent all of one year in Detroit's organization. He was acquired by Atlanta out of AA. He was no more "developed" by the Tigers than was Gorkys Hernandez. Greg Maddux was drafted, signed and developed by the Cubs, then acquired by the Braves. John Smoltz was developed by the Braves.
   48. a fatty cow that need two seats (cough, cough) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:09 PM (#3046222)
Now-mythical
   49. bunyon Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:10 PM (#3046223)
It's often said that we root for laundry. The Braves the last few years have convinced me otherwise. I continued to root for Maddux all over the country and even for Glavine in New York. Meanwhile, the Braves left me fairly uninspired. It's probably that I don't get to see scores of games per year on TBS so most of my baseball watching is random teams (i.e. New York vs. Boston over and over), but my first reaction to this news was, good for Smoltz.


Have I stopped being a Braves fan? Makes all that suffering in the 70s and 80s sort of meaningless.
   50. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:12 PM (#3046227)
The Braves ownership *has* plenty of money. They *can* afford these things. They *choose* not to.

Sure, Chris. Whatever you say. Everyone has the money, it's just that the teams in the mega-markets are owned by better, more competitive people. That fits your preferred world view so that's what you *choose* to believe. Outside of your bubble, it doesn't really work that way. The Braves are constrained by an operational budget in ways that the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Angels are not. And seriously, you're too smart not to recognize that. This isn't even a case where you can say "well, the mid-market teams could/should spend on the big names instead of the Gil Meches of the world" (to rehash a recent argument from the site.) This is categorically where the large markets have an unequal advantage in free agency. The Red Sox can afford to take $5.5 million flier on John Smoltz' shoulder holding together. The Atlanta Braves can not. Insomuch as the Atlanta Braves are NOT a small-market team, but rather a mid-market team, this should exemplify the basic market inequity for you. The problem is even worse for the Kansas Cities and the Tampa Bays. But hey, if you prefer to plug your ears, cover your eyes and sing LALALA until the cows come home, that's your call. You should be smarter than that, but then again, you have some funny laundry that often colors your thoughts...
   51. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:16 PM (#3046233)
Doesn't this argument between Sam and Chris basically hinge on what the Braves do the rest of the off-season? We know the Braves have somewhere around $10 million to spend, they were willing to drop that on Furcal.

Now if sign Lowe, I suppose the case could be made that they went between Smoltz and Lowe, and choose Lowe, given the limited budget. But if they sit on their cash, it's hard to argue market inequality was the issue, then it was just Atlanta making a choice not to spend the dollars.
   52. RJ in TO Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:19 PM (#3046236)
But if they sit on their cash, it's hard to argue market inequality was the issue, then it was just Atlanta making a choice not to spend the dollars.


Or it's a matter of Atlanta not being able to get someone to take that money, as we've seen happening with Milwaukee (in the Dunn and Lowe conversations so far).
   53. flournoy Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:20 PM (#3046238)
Atlanta has not made a choice not to spend the dollars. They tried hard to sign Tazawa, but were outbid by Boston. They tried hard to sign Burnett, but were outbid by New York. They tried hard to sign Furcal, but were outbid by Los Angeles. Notice a trend?
   54. RJ in TO Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:23 PM (#3046244)
They tried hard to sign Furcal, but were outbid by Los Angeles.


Were they even outbid on Furcal? I was of the impression that (at least according to Wren) that LA just matched the offer sheet that Atlanta passed to Furcal's agent.
   55. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:23 PM (#3046245)
If each guy is only healthy enough to make a dozen starts, isn't it a lot more likely that those starts will be of lower quality than a #3 starter?

Maybe. Or maybe they're each healthy enough to pitch well for a couple of months at different times (that would admittedly be quite fortunate). Or maybe we differ on the definition of the quality of a #3 starter. So maybe the combined performance won't add up to what Wakefield did last year, or what Matt Garza gave the Rays. But I think most teams, contenders included, would be pretty happy with 210 league average starting pitching innings from the guy in the middle of their rotation.
   56. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3046246)
I can sorta see why km likes these moves so much - it really feels like Dan Duquette is running the team again.
   57. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:24 PM (#3046247)
Or it's a matter of Atlanta not being able to get someone to take that money, as we've seen happening with Milwaukee (in the Dunn and Lowe conversations so far).
Well, arguably. But if they gather that people aren't wanting to take their money, and they want to improve the 2009 Braves, Smoltz seems like a guy who would be interested in taking it, and probably pick Atlanta over Boston given equal money, maybe even (marginally) lesser money.
   58. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:25 PM (#3046250)
Doesn't this argument between Sam and Chris basically hinge on what the Braves do the rest of the off-season?

Well, obviously I don't think so. The Braves have money to spend. There is no question about that. They entered this off-season with about $40 million to spend, in fact. That's because they had a LOT of players coming off the books (including Smoltz.) This doesn't change the fact that they ARE constrained by an operational budget and that budget IS smaller than the operational budgets of the mega-market teams. Atlanta wanted to acquire two top-of-the-rotation starters, an offensive minded OF and bring back Smoltz or Glavine on an incentive deal. They have to date brought in one of the starters - Javy Vasquez by trade - and spectacularly failed to bring in the other options they were pursuing - Peavy and Burnett. They have also spectacularly failed to address the outfield - the Furcal signing meant to move Kelly Johnson back to left field.

None of this addresses the basic difference in what the Red Sox vs the Braves could guarantee Smoltz. The Braves, being constrained to a $92 million budget, couldn't afford to sink $5.5-10 mil in Smoltz's shoulder. It was a risk they couldn't afford to take because they couldn't spend OVER that risk if it failed. The Red Sox CAN spend over that risk. $5.5 mil to Smoltz is a flier to them, a small-wager bet on his being effective in the second half and perhaps the playoffs. They can afford that bet, because they can afford to lose that bet. The Braves can't. It's that simple.
   59. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:30 PM (#3046255)
Atlanta has not made a choice not to spend the dollars. They tried hard to sign Tazawa, but were outbid by Boston. They tried hard to sign Burnett, but were outbid by New York. They tried hard to sign Furcal, but were outbid by Los Angeles. Notice a trend?
Yes, the Braves have lots of money to spend. All they want apparently, but were unaware someone else was spending more. Did you notice that they didn't lose those players to the same team? The Braves had money for all of those players, but the other teams concentrated on one. So, yes, the trend is the Braves have loads of money.
   60. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:30 PM (#3046256)
The Braves were willing to risk $16M/year for five years on A.J. Burnett. Did that money vanish when he decided to go somewhere else? If the argument is that a team like the Braves has financial constraints that big-market teams don't, then I would have to wonder why they think they can afford an $80M risk that could hamstring them for several seasons but not a $5.5M risk for one year only.
   61. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:31 PM (#3046257)
The Red Sox can afford to take $5.5 million flier on John Smoltz' shoulder holding together. The Atlanta Braves can not.

The Braves have been making offers for players that involved a lot more than $5.5M. They may not have landed anyone but the offers indicate Atlanta had the money to sign Smoltz if they thought he'd help. Looks like they concluded he wouldn't.
   62. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:32 PM (#3046258)
The Braves, being constrained to a $92 million budget,
What happens if they spend $93 million? they go bankrupt? Don't get sucked in by The Man. If September rolls around, and they are in first and need an arm or bat, they'll go right above $92.

"And seriously, you're too smart not to recognize that."
   63. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:32 PM (#3046259)
I was kidding about that last part, Sam.
   64. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:33 PM (#3046262)
The Braves can't. It's that simple.
What do you think happens if they "lose that bet"? The franchise folds?
   65. RJ in TO Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:33 PM (#3046263)
The Braves had money for all of those players, but the other teams concentrated on one.


The Yankees have signed Teixeira, Sabathia, and Burnett, so far. They've hardly concentrated on signing one player this offseason.

EDIT: And LA, with Furcal and the Manny negotiations. And Boston, who were involved in both the Tagawa and Teixeira negotiations (as well as Smoltz, Penny, Baldelli, and so on). None of these teams were focused on only a single free agent.
   66. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:35 PM (#3046267)
The Braves, being constrained to a $92 million budget, couldn't afford to sink $5.5-10 mil in Smoltz's shoulder. It was a risk they couldn't afford to take because they couldn't spend OVER that risk if it failed. The Red Sox CAN spend over that risk. $5.5 mil to Smoltz is a flier to them, a small-wager bet on his being effective in the second half and perhaps the playoffs. They can afford that bet, because they can afford to lose that bet. The Braves can't. It's that simple.

It's only that simple if they spend that money in a lower risk way. It seems to me that it's a little bit different if they don't spend the money at all.
   67. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3046268)
The Braves were willing to risk $16M/year for five years on A.J. Burnett. Did that money vanish when he decided to go somewhere else? If the argument is that a team like the Braves has financial constraints that big-market teams don't, then I would have to wonder why they think they can afford an $80M risk that could hamstring them for several seasons but not a $5.5M risk for one year only.

I would suggest, as politely as I know how, that you should consider the fact that contracts and potential contracts are not, in fact, solitary, stand-alone house, but pieces of a larger edifice. If they don't fit together, they don't work. The Braves tried to (over)spend on Burnett because he's a top-tier player who would make the team competitive for the next few years. He's one of the "A class" free agents that mid- and small-market teams are *supposed* to bid on per this site's conventional wisdom. Smoltz is a 42 year old with a shoulder held together by string cheese. He's the sort of mid- to low-tier FA the mid- and small-market teams are supposed to avoid, again, per conventional wisdom 'round here. The fact that the Braves *shouldn't* spend 5-10 mil on the chance of Smoltz being healthy while the Red Sox *should* sort of proves my larger point.
   68. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3046269)
The Red Sox CAN spend over that risk. $5.5 mil to Smoltz is a flier to them, a small-wager bet on his being effective in the second half and perhaps the playoffs. They can afford that bet, because they can afford to lose that bet. The Braves can't. It's that simple.
Well, for one thing, the Braves payroll was $102 million last year, so I'm not sure why you're knocking $10 million of this year's, but even taking that as true, $5.5 million is 6% of the Braves' supposed payroll. Six percent! Compared to 4.25% of the Red Sox.

Obviously different teams work under different constraints. But the idea that the Red Sox can merrily afford to devote 4.25% to a "flier" but the Braves can't devote a marginally higher fraction of theirs to it is pretty silly.
   69. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:39 PM (#3046272)
What do you think happens if they "lose that bet"? The franchise folds?

No. Mike Hampton happens. And if you don't think that constrains the potential moves made down the stretch, you're some sort of hillbilly from North Carolina with gauche colored jersies where your thinking brain should be.
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3046278)
Insomuch as the Atlanta Braves are NOT a small-market team

The Braves are a large market team; something like 8th largest MSA and a dominant positiona across the south.

The difference is they have corporate ownership that wants to recognize a healthy annual profit and cash flow from their assets, while the Yankees/Red Sox/Mets/Angels etc. have private ownership that can forego operating profits to build asset values.

There is a reason the Yankees sucked when owned by CBS. Corporate ownership just doesn't work for sports teams.
   71. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3046279)
It's only that simple if they spend that money in a lower risk way. It seems to me that it's a little bit different if they don't spend the money at all.

Um, the Braves WANT to spend the money they have. They've been trying to do that all winter long. They want to bring in Jake Peavy and his contract. They want(ed) to overpay AJ Burnett. They wanted to re-sign Furcal. That they haven't closed the deal on the multiple free agents they've been chasing doesn't mean they're not trying to spend the money they have.

And none of that in any way whatsoever impacts the base amount of money they have to spend. If the Braves HAD acquired Peavy and signed Furcal they would STILL be constrained by a $92 million operational budget. And the Red Sox would STILL not be so constrained. Maybe Smoltz takes less to stay in Atlanta thinking he has an equal shot at one more glory run. Maybe he doesn't. Either way, Boston still has an advantage in the market as they still have MORE MONEY TO SPEND. Period. End of story.
   72. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:46 PM (#3046283)
The Braves are a large market team.

No, the Braves are a mid-market team. That they're not small doesn't make them large. The difference between the Atlanta MSA and the MSAs of the northeastern corridor and souther California is significant. There are only a few "large markets" in the country. The mega-markets of NY and Boston, LA and Chicago. Being 8th doesn't mean you're in the same bracket as 1st and 2nd. It means your larger than 9th.
   73. flournoy Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:46 PM (#3046284)
Well, for one thing, the Braves payroll was $102 million last year, so I'm not sure why you're knocking $10 million of this year's


The Braves' accounting payroll last year started at $94M, and they wound up at $88M after shaving payroll at the deadline. For accounting purposes, they've treated Hampton's contract differently than their pay schedule indicates.
   74. Mister High Standards Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:48 PM (#3046287)
Notice a trend?


Yes, a trend that the Braves didn't get a player they would have liked to have. But the reasons were different. I believe largely, there are 4 reasons why players sign different places and teams bids differ.

1) The value of a marginal win varies between teams.
2) Players have preferences to play somewhere else.
3) Players add different amounts of marginal wins to each team due to differing replacement levels.
4) Teams have a signifigant differential in the projections.

In my opinion: Furcal was 2, Smoltz was 1. Burnett was a combination of 3 and 4.
   75. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:49 PM (#3046289)
Well, for one thing, the Braves payroll was $102 million last year

Nope. You're failing to budget the Mike Hampton contract across all years, as the Braves did, and you're failing to account for half of Tiexiera's contract falling to the Angels. The Braves' payroll last year was +/- $90m.
   76. Gamingboy Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:51 PM (#3046290)
Smoltz with the Red Sox. Huh. Makes sense.
   77. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:52 PM (#3046292)
Nope. You're failing to budget the Mike Hampton contract across all years, as the Braves did, and you're failing to account for half of Tiexiera's contract falling to the Angels. The Braves' payroll last year was +/- $90m.
Nonetheless, since I worked off of $92 million for my numbers, that doesn't change the core point.
   78. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:56 PM (#3046296)
I would suggest, as politely as I know how, that you should consider the fact that contracts and potential contracts are not, in fact, solitary, stand-alone house, but pieces of a larger edifice. If they don't fit together, they don't work. The Braves tried to (over)spend on Burnett because he's a top-tier player who would make the team competitive for the next few years.

I would respond, as politely as I know how, that I understand all of that. I was actually sincerely interested in why you personally think that the 5 year $80M risk is a wise one and the 1 year $5.5M risk is not. I didn't want to paint you with the broad brush of "this site's conventional wisdom." You've answered that question now -- you think Burnett is less of a risk than a lot of other people do. Thanks.

I would also suggest, as politely as I know how, that when one goes to all this trouble of saying that they're being as polite as they know how, that they in fact are not being particularly polite. But that's OK, and you probably already knew that anyway.
   79. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:57 PM (#3046297)
No, the Braves are a mid-market team. That they're not small doesn't make them large. The difference between the Atlanta MSA and the MSAs of the northeastern corridor and souther California is significant. There are only a few "large markets" in the country. The mega-markets of NY and Boston, LA and Chicago. Being 8th doesn't mean you're in the same bracket as 1st and 2nd. It means your larger than 9th.

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2008/33/biz_baseball08_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Rank.html?boxes=custom

According to Forbes, the top revenue teams for 2007 were:

NYY $327M, BOS $263M, NYM $235M, LAD $224M, CHC $214M, LAA $200M, ATL $199M, SFG $197M, STL $194M, SEA $194M, HOU $193M, CHW $193M, PHI $192M, CLE $181M, DET $173M, TEX $172M, then there's a drop-off to the 160's

The Yankees have a huge edge, and Boston a moderate one, but after that it's pretty close. All the teams in the 190's are large market, and can compete in spending with anyone but the Yankees.
   80. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:57 PM (#3046298)
Nonetheless, since I worked off of $92 million for my numbers, that doesn't change the core point.

Your core point being that the difference between a 5% of payroll flyer isn't notably differnt than a 4% of payroll flyer? If so, your math is basically right but your point is still wrong. Marginal values and all.
   81. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 03:59 PM (#3046300)
ATL $199M,
Then their budget should be about $92 mil so they can make 100% profit. A girl's gotta have her standards.
   82. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:02 PM (#3046304)
Um, the Braves WANT to spend the money they have. They've been trying to do that all winter long. They want to bring in Jake Peavy and his contract. They want(ed) to overpay AJ Burnett. They wanted to re-sign Furcal. That they haven't closed the deal on the multiple free agents they've been chasing doesn't mean they're not trying to spend the money they have.

Again, what I'm trying to get at here is what you think they should do now, having missed out on the players they targeted. Sit on the cash, or use some of it on some higher risk but lower cost and shorter term contracts?
   83. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3046306)
Then their budget should be about $92 mil so they can make 100% profit. A girl's gotta have her standards.

Of course any normal company is thrilled with a 20% operating margin, so they should be able to support total expenses of $160M, which would imply a major league payroll somwhere around $120-130M.

Plus, they'd still have the profit I'm sure they divert to TBS (YES! and the Yankees aren't the only one playing that game.)

Again, the Braves only "problem" is their ownership prefers more profit to more winning, and as a public company, that's probably the correct decision.
   84. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:04 PM (#3046307)
The difference between the Atlanta MSA and the MSAs of the northeastern corridor and souther California is significant. There are only a few "large markets" in the country. The mega-markets of NY and Boston, LA and Chicago. Being 8th doesn't mean you're in the same bracket as 1st and 2nd. It means your larger than 9th.


Maybe I'm not understanding what you mean when you say mega-market, but Boston doesn't look like it belongs anywhere near that category, and if it does, then Atlanta is right there with it.

U.S. Media Markets Sorted by Size

#1 New York, NY 15,340,000
#2 Los Angeles, CA 10,609,200
#3 Chicago, IL 7,612,100
#4 San Francisco, CA 6,012,000
#5 Dallas, TX 4,576,700
#6 Philadelphia, PA 4,291,700
#7 Houston, TX 4,165,000
#8 Washington, DC 4,041,300
#9 Boston, MA 3,888,800
#10 Detroit, MI 3,859,700
#11 Atlanta, GA 3,750,700
#12 Miami, FL 3,489,800
#13 Puerto Rico 3,264,900
#14 Seattle, WA 3,150,300
#15 Phoenix, AZ 2,801,300
   85. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:04 PM (#3046309)
Again, the Braves only "problem" is their ownership prefers more profit to more winning, and as a public company, that's probably the correct decision.
That's a fine way to post it, but I don't want to hear fans poor-mouth their team. They have owners who choose profits over winning. Just admit that's who you choose to cheer for.
   86. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:05 PM (#3046312)
The difference between the Atlanta MSA and the MSAs of the northeastern corridor and souther California is significant.

The Census Bureau seems to be under the impression that the Atlanta SMSA (#9) is larger than that of Boston (#10). There is no reason the Braves revenue stream can't equal or exceed Boston's.
   87. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:06 PM (#3046313)
Hell, when Wayne Huizenga underwent a firesale he was burned in effigy on the 'Nets. Because he chose profit (the way he wanted to get it) over winning.
   88. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3046314)
NYY $327M, BOS $263M, NYM $235M, LAD $224M, CHC $214M, LAA $200M, ATL $199M, SFG $197M, STL $194M, SEA $194M, HOU $193M, CHW $193M, PHI $192M, CLE $181M, DET $173M, TEX $172M, then there's a drop-off to the 160's

The difference being that Atlanta has fully maxed out its potential market where the teams in the mega-markets, excepting perhaps Boston, have not. The Mets can grow their revenues in multiple ways - a fact that should be apparent next year with Citi Field and the new network. The Cubs can grow their revenues with the waxing and waning of the White Sox, as can the Angels with relation to Dodgers. The Braves are maxed out in their market. They and Philly are probably the biggest of the mid-market teams, but neither are true large-market teams. There's no direct comparisons between the MSAs of NY, Boston, LA or Chicago, and those of Atlanta, San Fransisco, St. Louis and Seattle. (Which may be why we're suddenly talking about year-to-year revenue rather than MSAs and market size...)
   89. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3046315)
I can sorta see why km likes these moves so much - it really feels like Dan Duquette is running the team again.


Yeah, it seems like the lottery arms strategy is back.
   90. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:12 PM (#3046318)
Just admit that's who you choose to cheer for.

Come on, Chris. You don't cheer for Wilpon, and you didn't grow up cheering for Joan Payson. I'm pretty sure Sam didn't cheer for Ted Turner back in the day, either. Asking him to admit that his team's owners choose profits over winning is one thing, but it's kind of over-the-top to suggest that he's cheering for those owners or their approach to the business.

#9 Boston, MA 3,888,800
#10 Detroit, MI 3,859,700
#11 Atlanta, GA 3,750,700


Boston and Atlanta are similar in that while they are far from mega-markets, the franchises leverage their regional appeal to increase their revenue streams. If it was strictly about MSA's, there's no way these teams should have revenues similar to the two LA franchises.
   91. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:14 PM (#3046319)
Again, what I'm trying to get at here is what you think they should do now, having missed out on the players they targeted. Sit on the cash, or use some of it on some higher risk but lower cost and shorter term contracts?

At this point? The Braves should probably throw too much money at Derek Lowe and Adam Dunn. Eat the defensive shortcomings in order to maximize Chipper's last few productive years. Doing that probably precludes them from risking $5-10 mil on Smoltz. If they fail to land Lowe they should drop into a rebuilding defensive crouch, shop Chipper to an AL contender with prospects, sign Andruw and trade him at the deadline if he makes it possible, and basically tear it all down and start from scratch. They have McCann, Jurrjens, Hanson, Schafer, Heyward, Escobar and Johnson to build around at that point.
   92. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:16 PM (#3046320)
Boston and Atlanta are similar in that while they are far from mega-markets, the franchises leverage their regional appeal to increase their revenue streams. If it was strictly about MSA's, there's no way these teams should have revenues similar to the two LA franchises.

I admit that the Boston MSA figures are smaller than I expected. I suspect they have more regional support in the northeast than does Atlanta in the southeast, but I was expecting a larger MSA for Boston.
   93. Mike Green Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3046321)
In his last outing prior to the shoulder surgery, Smoltz was moved to relief. He may not have liked the role, but it would not surprise me at all to see Smoltz handling high leverage work in the 7th and 8th innings for the Sox come July. The other possibility, to my mind, is the "Sunday Ted Lyons" starting role which Bill James has expressed a fondness for.
   94. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3046324)
I admit that the Boston MSA figures are smaller than I expected. I suspect they have more regional support in the northeast than does Atlanta in the southeast, but I was expecting a larger MSA for Boston.


Probably. They have at least half the Hartford market, Springfield and Worcester, MA as well as Providence RI. And folks come in from northern New England as well. But isn't the big money in TV? I know they aren't an TBS anymore, but I imagine the Braves must be on some Fox Net Sports station all over the South.

Phone. I'll be back.
   95. DCA Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:25 PM (#3046329)
At this point? The Braves should probably throw too much money at Derek Lowe and Adam Dunn.

I agree. In this market, something like 4/$50 for each would probably get it done. 2009 is likely to be a lost year ... Hudson out, Schafer and Heyward getting final seasoning and below-average players in front of them ... but Dunn and Lowe should help for the foreseeable future, and if everything breaks right they could turn the team into a contender.
   96. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:26 PM (#3046330)
Plus, they'd still have the profit I'm sure they divert to TBS

That game ended. It's all about regional sports networks now...

They have owners who choose profits over winning. Just admit that's who you choose to cheer for.

There but for the grace of God go you, Chris...

I think calling the Braves mid-market is misleading - we're a large market club behaving like a (relatively big) mid-market one.
   97. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:26 PM (#3046331)
Plus, they'd still have the profit I'm sure they divert to TBS (YES! and the Yankees aren't the only one playing that game.)

TBS doesn't even carry Braves' games anymore. I would wager that its ostensible replacement, Sports South (or whatever it is called these days), doesn't differ in any substantial way from the generic RSN these days. Of course you may have been making a broader point about RSNs.

EDIT: Frank Wren is making me sad.
   98. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:29 PM (#3046335)
I imagine the Braves must be on some Fox Net Sports station all over the South.


They are, but my recollection is that it doesn't cover the whole of what has traditionally been Braves' territory (which has been a very spread out area). I could be wrong though.
   99. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:31 PM (#3046339)
True. it's a travesty that the longest continually operating MLB franchise can boast only Rick Camp, Bruce Benedict, and Biff Pocoroba as its best "entire career" players. Only the Blue jays, Rangers, and the 90's expansion teams have worse candidates. I really thought they had finally gotten over the hump with Smoltz.

For Toronto, the "entire career" player of choice is Vernon Wells (1078 games played) or Roy Halladay (281 games pitched).
Every other player/pitcher ahead of them in service time as a Blue Jay started or finished their careers somewhere else.
   100. bfan Posted: January 08, 2009 at 04:34 PM (#3046341)
"NYY $327M, BOS $263M, NYM $235M, LAD $224M, CHC $214M, LAA $200M, ATL $199M, SFG $197M"

As interesting as this whole discussion has been about whether or not Atlanta can spend as much as Boston, what has become apparant this off-season is that there has been a shift from a few small-market teams (KC; Pittsburgh) not being able to hold onto their stars when they hit their high-income years, for the benefit of 25 other MLB teams, to 25 MLB teams not being able to hold onto their stars when they hit high-income years, for the benefit of 5-6 MLB teams.

It is great for the fans for the 5-6 MLB teams that still can pay the salaries; it sucks to be everyone else. It has been fun and easy in past years to call the ownership groups in KC and Pittsburgh and Milwaukee stupid, but as Sam so clearly has pointed out above, do we not see a very strong correlation here between market-size, revenue size and success? The Yankees stupid moves just get buried in the minors; the others' stupid moves affect what they can do at the MLB level.

Honestly, how many MLB teams could have paid the mere negotiating rights fee for the japanese star pitcher, without any guarantee of any return? How many MLB teams could pay a Michigan Wolverines starting QB enough money to forego that opportunity, to founder around in the minors for a few years?
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