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   101. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2009 at 05:01 AM (#3042472)
Yes, obviously if they spent more money - and spent it wisely - they could do better. I'm still not seeing where they've lost an opportunity to spend money wisely. I suppose they could've spent money unwisely - improving but at a cost that makes John Henry get less than he expects to get - but the business model they have seems to have worked pretty well to date.
Right, so if the team's budget was suddenly cut by $10-20M for John Henry's personal gain, they would lose an opportunity to spend wisely over the course of several years.

1) I don't think the Red Sox should cut payroll for 2009 and I still expect them to spend money. I think that's Henry's responsibility to the fans as owner of the team. They are leaving wins on the table if they're not looking at ways of spending this extra cash on upgrades. (Lowe is now my top choice.)

2) I can understand that some (Jose et al) are willing to trust Henry for a year that this is all happening for good baseball reasons, and the payroll will be where it needs to be in the future to keep this team in the playoffs.

3) Your claim in #91 that you don't have a problem with Henry taking money away from the team for non-baseball reasons, so long as they are "competitive" in some unspecified sense seems to stake out a third position, in which the future payroll remains low for non-baseball reasons, and you're ok with it for reasons that are unclear to me. As you say above, payroll correlates to competitiveness over the long run, so a long run of Henry pocketing the money - which you accepted in #91, based on your being ok with Henry's pocketing however much profit he wants - would reduce competitiveness.

4) Now you seem to be saying that as long as everything is happening for good baseball reasons, you're ok with it, but that's quite different from the claims in #91. Hopefully either I'm misreading #91 or you're walking it back. Then we disagree, as stated in (1), but more reasonably.
   102. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2009 at 05:04 AM (#3042474)
Matsuzaka wasn't a free agent.
He was available for only money. The Red Sox bid more. Doesn't this suggest that the Red Sox could bid more for other players, too?

The Yankees have given very, very few crazy high contracts in the last decade. One would think if this were a team that could not possibly be outbid, they would have destroyed the expected market on at least a couple players. They haven't acted like a team for whom bidding wars have no top end.
   103. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2009 at 05:07 AM (#3042475)
There's NOTHING in the track record to suggest that when both teams are in the bidding the free agent in question will choose Boston.
If the Red Sox offer much more money, as they did for Matsuzaka, they can get the free agent. Your theorized Mecha-Yankees who will bid insane sums of money in order to win free agents away from lesser clubs don't show up in the historical record.
   104. OCD SS Posted: January 03, 2009 at 04:37 PM (#3042579)
There seems to be a lot of wishcasting, now that the numbers are out there, that Boston could have had Player X because they could afford to pay more than what X got from the Yankees. Well, if Boston could've paid more, why couldn't the Yankees have paid more? Did they suddenly run out of money last week? There's NOTHING in the track record to suggest that when both teams are in the bidding the free agent in question will choose Boston.


In which of those cases did the Red Sox have more money on the table? If the Sox want a player they might try that once in awhile and see where it gets them...

Part of the problem is with their approach to negotiating, IMO. It doesn't look like they see any value in getting anything done quickly and decisively, instead preferring to draw out every contract or trade like it's a chess endgame. I think the Yankees have demonstrated that there is some value in solving your problems quickly. Certainly there's only so much they can do when Boras is willing to drag it out, but the Yankees do manage to complete things quickly, and the Sox never really push them past their own comfort zone.

In regards to Teixeira, it seems like the Yankees weren't involved when the Sox were in Texas. Now prehaps they were, you're right in that we don't know. I think the media is being spun quite a bit in the retrospective reporting. I'm trying not to "wishcast" as opposed to debate they're negotiating strategy. To a certain extent if they'd gone in to Dallas and offered $23.25M for 8 yrs (beating CC by AAV and years) and signed him there would be some Sox fans howling that they overpaid and bid against themselves and how could they get played by Boras like that? But conversely they might need to accept that they're going to need to overpay sometimes.
   105. Darren Posted: January 03, 2009 at 05:30 PM (#3042594)
Obviously, if I'm wrong, and the team is equally good at getting to the playoffs every year under tougher financial straits, then, ok, I'm not upset. But I don't see any reason to believe I'm wrong.


Oh I think you're right too. I'm just saying that if you're wrong, I'll have to give the FO their due.
   106. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: January 03, 2009 at 06:24 PM (#3042621)
I think if we got Adam Dunn, I could work him into the lineup, but that's just me.

Have a semi-platoon with Dunn and Lowell. Lowell plays against 3rd all LHPs, and one of Drew/Papi/Dunn sits.
When facing a RHP, Lowell will sit on the bench, Youk will play 3rd, and Dunn will be in LF or 1B. (Depending on where he'll cause the least amount of harm). If Adam Dunn can play OK in LF and can't hack it in 1B, I'm not against moving Jason Bay to 1B. Just use Lowell as a defensive sub for Dunn (Bay back to LF, Youk to 1B, Lowell in at 3B, Dunn out). Lowell could pinch hit for the catcher, and then come into the game as a defensive sub.

Also, if we got Dunn, I'd love to see Francona tweak the lineup.

Bay (fastest non-Jacoby player in the lineup)
Dunn
Pedroia
Papi
Youkilis
Drew
Jed
Catcher
Jacoby

I don't think Jacoby will have a high enough OBP to hit leadoff, and our 2nd fastest player is Bay.
Pedroia behind Dunn and in front of Papi is my ideal placement.
1) Nobody is going to pitch around Dusty to get to Papi
2) Nobody is going to pitch to Dunn to avoid Dusty
3) Out of Dunn/Dusty/Papi, Dusty is the most aggressive hitter
4) With this configuration, Dusty probably sees the most amount of fastballs with a runner on base.

I also don't like Dusty hitting 2nd. He makes too much contact. Dunn in the 2nd spot will also mitigate the amount of damage his large # of Ks, as it will cut down on DPs. I'd hit Dusty leadoff, but his splits somehow say he's not very good hitting leadoff.

Against LHP:
Bay
Youkilis
Ortiz
Pedroia
Lowell
Drew
Jed
Catcher
Jacoby
   107. OCD SS Posted: January 03, 2009 at 06:37 PM (#3042631)
I think Drew is faster than Bay.
   108. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: January 03, 2009 at 06:40 PM (#3042633)
Maybe I'm being naive, but I'd guess that Dunn would want to be guaranteed an everyday job if he were to sign with the Sox. In any case, it would be interesting to see Francona have to work around mlb players' egos if Dunn were added to the roster. My sense is that Lowell would have to be dealt in order for the situation not to get awkward, and that's why I don't think a Dunn signing is happening. Dunn at 1b and Youk at 3b doesn't seem like an upgrade from Lowell and Youk (unless Lowell is completely shot).
   109. Dan Posted: January 03, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3042636)
Drew is absolutely faster than Bay.
   110. villageidiom Posted: January 04, 2009 at 06:34 AM (#3042838)
Hopefully either I'm misreading #91 or you're walking it back.
You're misreading it.

Let me regurgitate what you've said, so maybe you can understand what I'm responding to in #91.

72: ...they've still got a payroll way, way under what should be expected, based on history and revenues. Are you just fine with John Henry pocketing that money?

82: I agree generally, but I'm not sure what the specific lesson should be (other than, we shoulda bid more for Sabathia / Teixeira). The remaining free agents don't really appeal to me, and don't fill holes on the Sox roster.

88: That wasn't the question. I didn't ask about John Henry making a profit.

From this I'm gathering that you object to Henry making profit at the level of {historical levels} plus {the current drop in payroll}, but not at {historical levels} alone, and that they should have instead devoted the money from the drop in payroll to higher bidding on Sabathia / Teixeira. If I'm misunderstanding you, let me know; but that's how I was reading it, and that's what I'm responding to.

In #87, I mention that I believe when the Yankees and Red Sox are both interested in a free agent, the Yankees will outbid the Red Sox, and that most of the time that will result in the free agent choosing the Yankees. You can assume from this (and later posts) that I do not think Boston devoting that chunk of payroll to either or both of Sabathia / Teixeira would have resulted in either of them coming to Boston, as I expect NY would have outbid whatever Boston's best offer could have been.

So, given my belief that Sabathia and Teixeira wouldn't have come to Boston, and my reading of your comments to mean that nothing short of those two are worth spending that payroll on, by the time we get to post 91 all I see is that either you're dreaming for ponies or begrudging John Henry for possibly wanting more money in his pockets than what you deem to be enough. Maybe I'm off base there, but that's where I was on the last page.

My point in #91 is that maybe what you and I are accustomed to - the historical levels of profit John Henry has been getting - is not actually "enough". I'm assuming John Henry knows the answer better than either of us. Maybe he's been waiting patiently for Manny's contract to clear so they can spend their money more efficiently, achieving the same level of competitiveness with a lower payroll so he can finally pocket the amount he'd planned on long-term (or maybe pay off the financing it took to buy the team in the first place). Maybe we've been damn lucky Henry didn't implode the roster three or four years ago, or refuse to field a competitive team in that time. I have no freaking idea.

I hope that clears things up.
   111. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: January 04, 2009 at 07:40 AM (#3042849)
Drew is absolutely faster than Bay

Drew takes better OF routes than Bay, I wasn't aware that Drew was plain faster. JD Hits more triples, but Jason Bay has stolen in the last 4 seasons: 20, 11, 4, and 10 bases. JD Drew hasn't cracked double digits in steals since 04. Jason Bay has fine SB/CS ratio too. (53/11 lifetime)

Jd's lifetime SB/CS: 82/29

--
Also, Dusty's career SB/CS ratio: 27/3
--

I know these numbers don't really demonstrate foot speed, otherwise Dustin Pedroia is clearly the fastest runner on the Red Sox
   112. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 02:45 PM (#3042873)
My point in #91 is that maybe what you and I are accustomed to - the historical levels of profit John Henry has been getting - is not actually "enough". I'm assuming John Henry knows the answer better than either of us. Maybe he's been waiting patiently for Manny's contract to clear so they can spend their money more efficiently, achieving the same level of competitiveness with a lower payroll so he can finally pocket the amount he'd planned on long-term (or maybe pay off the financing it took to buy the team in the first place).
This is what I find hard to believe. Are you suggesting that Manny's salary was averaging $20M in "losses", and thus that once his contract has cleared the Red Sox can cut payroll without losing competitiveness? This is not what, for instance, fangraphs says, or what ARoM's numbers say. I don't know what Manny's precise value is, but his contract minus his win value does not account for the current drop in payroll.

What you are now saying is that you think the team will remain exactly as competitive while John Henry pockets extra cash. Your scenarios for how this could be achieved are unlikely or simply wrong. In general, the notion that a ballclub can cut payroll as a longterm plan without losing competitiveness has very little empirical backing that I can think of. You agree that having more money to spend increases competitiveness, right?

Then you toss this out:
Maybe we've been damn lucky Henry didn't implode the roster three or four years ago, or refuse to field a competitive team in that time. I have no freaking idea.
Just to clarify, this is not a scenario you would have "no problem" with, right? You would find this to be an objectionable way for Henry to run the team?
   113. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 02:48 PM (#3042874)
In #87, I mention that I believe when the Yankees and Red Sox are both interested in a free agent, the Yankees will outbid the Red Sox, and that most of the time that will result in the free agent choosing the Yankees. You can assume from this (and later posts) that I do not think Boston devoting that chunk of payroll to either or both of Sabathia / Teixeira would have resulted in either of them coming to Boston, as I expect NY would have outbid whatever Boston's best offer could have been.
As I argued in 102-103, I find your certainty on this point impossible to defend.

As I've said elsewhere, I think Derek Lowe makes tons of sense for the Red Sox right now. I also think there may be ways for the Red Sox to use their extra cash to pick up a catcher (reports of eating Byrnes' salary in a Montero deal, for instance). I want them to use this money. I still think that a big offer to Sabathia would have been the best choice, but now that that's past, I think they should be in the Lowe bidding.
   114. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 02:54 PM (#3042875)
Also, what's with the edit you did on my post 82? What I actually said:
I agree generally, but I'm not sure what the specific lesson should be (other than, we shoulda bid more for Sabathia / Teixeira). The remaining free agents don't really appeal to me, and don't fill holes on the Sox roster.

Other than Derek Lowe. If the only offer on his plate is 3/36, the Sox absolutely have to get into the bidding.
You cut the quote so that I appeared to be saying that I didn't want the Red Sox to be spending Henry's money on any free agents, and thus I was just complaining about not signing Sabathia or Teixeira. I actually said the Red Sox should sign Derek Lowe. So I definitely never said "nothing short of those two are worth spending that payroll on."

Also, there are, as mentioned above, other ways to spend money than on the free agent market.
   115. Russ Posted: January 04, 2009 at 03:09 PM (#3042882)
but Jason Bay has stolen in the last 4 seasons: 20, 11, 4, and 10 bases.


Bay is a smart base stealer, not a fast one. I think he's very good at reading the pitcher.
   116. caprules Posted: January 04, 2009 at 06:51 PM (#3042969)
MCOA, do you think Sheets would have turned down arbitration if he was currently hurt? He tore a muscle in his forearm and is expected to be ready for 2009 ST healed from that injury. If you're not afraid of his previous injury history, Sheets is clearly the best available player on the FA market and he hasn't yet received a multi-year offer.
   117. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 07:21 PM (#3042988)
Don't you think Sheets would have received a multi-year offer if he weren't currently injured?

Rather, I think Sheets' injury status is unknown and basically unknowable until he attempts to pitch competitively again. He thinks he'll be able to do it. Most ballclubs appear to differ with him in this regard. Having watched him pitch after his injury in 2008, and knowing that he hasn't had any sort of interventional treatment since then, I would not want to risk committing money and a roster spot to Sheets.
   118. Starlin of the Slipstream (TRHN) Posted: January 04, 2009 at 07:32 PM (#3042994)
Olney says it's Sheets' shoulder teams are scared of. My thinking was that if it's his elbow, a 2 year deal with a team option would be a good idea because the odds are pretty good that it can be fixed. Even if his elbow injury is worse than his agent is letting on, there would still be a good chance that he could provide more value than the total cost of his contract. If it's his shoulder, though, then you can't help but fear a Mark Prior career path.

Derek Lowe is still looking to make $16 million with several suitors in the mix. It appears likely that years and dollars will get added to his contract. Even still, he might still be a better deal than Burnett, but no longer a bargain.
   119. caprules Posted: January 04, 2009 at 07:42 PM (#3043007)
Don't you think Sheets would have received a multi-year offer if he weren't currently injured?


In a different economy, yes I think he would have received offers. But there's no reason to think his injury at the end of 2008 would impact him in 2009. The two parties that have the most knowledge about his injury, the Brewers and Sheets, both made decisions assuming that he would be healthy for 2009. There is no way the Brewers would have offered arbitration if they believed that imjury would impact him in 2009, and there's no way that Sheets would turn down arbitration if he wasn't going to be healthy.

I think Sheet's agent knew that there were teams that would be interested in Sheets. One of those was the Yankees, but when they got CC and Burnett, there was no need for Sheets anymore. Another team was the Rangers, but they may have misjudged how much they have to spend, or Sheet's agent may have misread the Rangers interest/ability to make an offer.

I think the lack of offers for Sheets says much more about current economic fears than Sheets current injury status.
   120. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 07:50 PM (#3043013)
2009 projections for Derek Lowe.

Marcel: 185 IP, 4.04 ERA
CHONE: 171 IP, 4.05 ERA
ZiPS: 193 IP, 3.73 ERA (in Dodger Stadium)

He looks like he projects about 30-35 runs above replacement, depending on where you set pitching replacement level. 3/48 or even 4/64 would be a quite reasonable contract for Lowe.
   121. villageidiom Posted: January 04, 2009 at 07:58 PM (#3043020)
This is what I find hard to believe. Are you suggesting that Manny's salary was averaging $20M in "losses", and thus that once his contract has cleared the Red Sox can cut payroll without losing competitiveness?
I'm suggesting a possibility that the front office might have thought the money devoted to Manny was being spent inefficiently, but rather than cut the rest of the payroll in the short term to make up for it John Henry was willing to take the short term hit to keep competitive until they could do something about it.

What you are now saying is that you think the team will remain exactly as competitive while John Henry pockets extra cash. Your scenarios for how this could be achieved are unlikely or simply wrong. In general, the notion that a ballclub can cut payroll as a longterm plan without losing competitiveness has very little empirical backing that I can think of.
You seem to be leaping from "in general it doesn't work that way" to "it can't possibly work that way". The Yankees, in this offseason, have cut payroll (rel. to 2008) without losing competitiveness (rel. to 2008). If payroll was being spent inefficiently, it can be done.

Again, I'm reading you as saying what they spent last year is at least the proper amount to spend long term, that whatever profits Henry got last year are at most the proper amount for him to earn. I see no basis in fact for that conclusion. If that's not what you're concluding,

Just to clarify, this is not a scenario you would have "no problem" with, right? You would find this to be an objectionable way for Henry to run the team?
No. I wouldn't have enjoyed the last 3 or 4 years as much as I have, but I wouldn't automatically object to Henry running the team that way in the short term.

As I argued in 102-103, I find your certainty on this point impossible to defend.
And you've apparently done so on the basis of a player who could choose between many millions with Boston or a much smaller sum from Seibu, and a posting process that was a silent auction and resembles a free agent negotiation only in that it involves money. If you really want to believe that they are similar enough to use as empirical evidence, we're at an impasse.

The Yankees have given very, very few crazy high contracts in the last decade. One would think if this were a team that could not possibly be outbid, they would have destroyed the expected market on at least a couple players. They haven't acted like a team for whom bidding wars have no top end.
That the players they wanted came to them, but not for crazy high contracts, says more about the other bidders for those free agents than it does about the Yankees. If the Yankees are bidding against only themselves, why would they continue to raise their offers?

Again, name a free agent the Yankees and Red Sox (under this management) were both bidding for that ended up with Boston.

Also, what's with the edit you did on my post 82?
If they sign Derek Lowe, they will still have cut the payroll, which means they're less competitive than they theoretically could be. And you seem to have a philosophical problem with that, one that I was trying to respond to.

Was I reading that wrong? If they sign Derek Lowe, and payroll is still under 2008, does that change how you feel? Based on the pretty firm stance that reduced payroll = reduced competitiveness, I don't see why you wouldn't still have a problem with it. That's why I edited... It doesn't seem to change the argument.
   122. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 07:59 PM (#3043021)
There is no way the Brewers would have offered arbitration if they believed that imjury would impact him in 2009, and there's no way that Sheets would turn down arbitration if he wasn't going to be healthy.
You're presuming that this is binary, and that anyone has sure knowledge of Sheets' health. I don't think anyone has sure knowledge of Sheets' health.

I think the Brewers being willing to offer Sheets a one-year arb deal hardly says much about their belief in his health. I bet a number of teams might take Sheets on for one season - that hardly suggests he's healthy, anymore than Gagne signing with the Brewers last winter for 1/10 suggested he had regained his health and effectiveness.

As I said, Sheets' decisions suggest he believes he is healthy and will pitch effectively. I think you've got a lot of special pleading going on above to hide the clear evidence that the rest of MLB is highly skeptical of his health. Even if the economy is tamping down prospective Sheets contracts, why is no one even offering a second year?
   123. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 08:05 PM (#3043026)
No. I wouldn't have enjoyed the last 3 or 4 years as much as I have, but I wouldn't automatically object to Henry running the team that way in the short term.
We live in different universes. You wouldn't mind the owner of your favorite team undercutting the competitiveness of that team significantly for no reason other than being unhappy with the extent of profit he received from owning the club? Srsly?
You seem to be leaping from "in general it doesn't work that way" to "it can't possibly work that way".
No, I'm not. If the Red Sox signed Adam Dunn for five years and 100 million, I would object because in general, Adam Dunn is not worth 5/100. I would not be saying that it is utterly impossible for Adam Dunn to produce 100M of value in the next five years. He could. It's unlikely.

Likewise, it's certainly possible for a team to cut payroll and maintain competitiveness. It's just not the most likely outcome. Just as I would oppose any poor signing on grounds of probabilities, I would oppose any long term cut in payroll on the grounds of probabilities.

EDIT: I said "the notion that a ballclub can cut payroll as a longterm plan without losing competitiveness has very little empirical backing that I can think of." I was speaking generally - obviously there are vanishingly few ideas that are utterly incapable of ever producing value. That hardly makes every idea a good idea.
Was I reading that wrong? If they sign Derek Lowe, and payroll is still under 2008, does that change how you feel?
Of course. The less that payroll is cut, the less bad I will feel - so long as it's spent reasonably intelligently, obviously. I'll still have the problem, but the extent will be lessened. They could, of course, sign Derek Lowe and make other payroll- and win-increasing moves that bring payroll up to where it's been over the past four seasons.

You, also, have made the claim that you don't mind a long-term drop in payroll. That's a separate claim from being ok with a possible one-year blip in 2009 driven by peculiar market factors (Jose's position).
   124. caprules Posted: January 04, 2009 at 08:23 PM (#3043038)
Even if the economy is tamping down prospective Sheets contracts, why is no one even offering a second year?


I think teams are more scared of Sheets injury history than his current injury status.

I don't think you can compare the Brewers offer of arbitration to Sheets to the deal they made with Gagne. Last year Melvin had assembled a team that he was reasonably content with, but it still lacked a closer he had confidence in. The team had money to spend, and Gagne was the highest reward option out there. Basically Melvin thought that he had a decent team without Gagne and the $10M it would take to get him, so no loss if it didn't turn out and a chance of a nice reward if it panned out.

This year the Brewers budget is comparatively tighter. They need to know that if they are going to spend $14M or so that they will get value out of that. I just don't think it's reasonable to assume that the Brewers and Sheets separately made $14M gambles on Sheets current health.
   125. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 08:31 PM (#3043045)
I think teams are more scared of Sheets injury history than his current injury status.
I find that highly unlikely. AJ Burnett has an injury history, got 5/85. Kerry Wood has a really bad injury history, only throws 70 IP per year, and got 2/20. And in this market, no one will offer Ben Sheets even a second year? The response of MLB only makes sense if most teams think Sheets is hurt.
   126. caprules Posted: January 04, 2009 at 08:55 PM (#3043053)
The response of MLB only makes sense if most teams think Sheets is hurt.


I don't think it makes sense to assume the collective wisdom of teams here. It should be done on a team by team basis. How many teams are going to spend the money that it would take to sign Sheets, and how many teams will want to do so for a SP vs any other position?

The Mets seem to want Lowe, but want to smoke out other offers to make sure they aren't overpaying. If they don't get Lowe, they probably have a higher comfort level with Perez than Sheets.

The Braves seem to be the most relevant team. They were willing to commit years and money to Burnett but I'm not aware of any interest they may have in Sheets.

The Brewers were willing to commit to one year for Sheets but have made no multi-year offers to him.

How many other teams have shown an indication that they want to offer multi-year 10 figure deals for a SP?

The Cubs seem to want to spend money, but had Peavy targeted and don't seem to have any interest in Sheets.

Are there any other teams that I haven't mentioned that have indicated they will be big spenders? I don't think we are dealing with "most" teams. I think we are dealing with a few teams, each with their own motives and fears.
   127. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2009 at 09:08 PM (#3043062)
FR - it's hard to say much at this point, we're basically speculating, and we'll know in a few months which of us was right. If Sheets gets a big contract and comes into spring training healthy and effective, I'll be sure to acknowledge I was wrong to be so concerned.
   128. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: January 05, 2009 at 07:43 AM (#3043313)
I only object to big money deals to mediocre players. Because mediocre players tend to turn krappy. If you give big money to awesome players, and they play merely as "good", it's not a sunk cost.

This is why I'm pro Tex, pro Drew, and anti-Lowe. Lowe could be our next Lugo.

Edit: Sign Smoltz dammit. As long as we don't offer an incentive based on how many terrorists he disarms. He could bankrupt the franchise.
   129. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 05, 2009 at 08:27 AM (#3043321)
If you give big money to awesome players, and they play merely as "good", it's not a sunk cost.

2008 Yankees!
   130. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: January 05, 2009 at 10:56 AM (#3043332)
If you give big money to awesome players, and they play merely as "good", it's not a sunk cost.

2008 Yankees!


The point was that if we give big money to mediocre players like Lowe, then they usually turn into Lugo.
   131. TomH Posted: January 05, 2009 at 02:49 PM (#3043360)
remind me ow the lux tax works; it increases each yeare a team is over, right? If so, would it not be wise to have one year of team salary below the line, to reset the consecutive-years counter? Is this maybe what the Sox are doing? I don't have the previous years' team salary and tax threshold ##s.
   132. villageidiom Posted: January 05, 2009 at 02:59 PM (#3043365)
We live in different universes.
Yes. I'm kinda surprised you weren't aware of it until now.

You wouldn't mind the owner of your favorite team undercutting the competitiveness of that team significantly for no reason other than being unhappy with the extent of profit he received from owning the club? Srsly?
Did I say I wouldn't be unhappy about it? I'm pretty sure I said my enjoyment would have been diminished had he spent the last few years undercutting competitiveness in order to achieve a long-term profit in the short term. What I said is that I do not automatically object to Henry running the team that way. I can separate my wishes as a fan from his right as an owner to run the team as he sees fit. (That seems to be the big difference: I'm responding on the latter, while you're reacting as though it's the former.) And I'm willing to consider that the proper long-term benchmark for how much he should spend on the roster could be lower than what he had been spending in the short term. Maybe it's higher, maybe it's the same, maybe it's lower. Dunno.

Let me turn this around, so maybe you can understand better. By your "relative competitiveness" view he's hurting the competitiveness of the team by not spending more than he is. Yet, no matter what he spends, one could say he's hurting competitiveness by not spending more. He could spend $500 million on payroll, but he's hurting competitiveness by not spending $600 million. Obviously that gets to an absurd payroll level that only the most myopic fan would bother considering. But it's true: no matter what payroll strawman one sets up, Henry is hurting competitiveness by not spending more than that.

I don't begrudge Henry a profit, and I believe neither do you. (True?) So somewhere in the spectrum between a $10 million payroll and an infinite one, there's a line where Henry makes an acceptable profit and the team is acceptably competitive. All I'm saying is that I don't know where that line is. You seem to be saying what you want that line to be, and that you object to Henry choosing materially less - as though "what you want" is what governs the universe. I suppose in your universe it does.
   133. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 05, 2009 at 03:27 PM (#3043381)
You seem to be saying what you want that line to be, and that you object to Henry choosing materially less - as though "what you want" is what governs the universe.
This "governance" stuff and the language of "right" is very odd to me. I never said that I favored legal or armed intervention to cause John Henry to run his team differently. Of course he has a "right" to do what he wants and I do not "govern" him.

Rather, I am making normative claims about what the proper actions of a business owner are, and in particular the actions of the owner of a ballclub. I believe he has various responsibilities to the fans of the team and the community in which the team lives. You seem to object to the notion that there are better and worse ways for an owner to act, and think I am speaking fancifully if I make normative judgments about a business owner's actions. Is that correct? Or, better, to what aspects of running a ballclub or running a business do you believe that normative questions do not apply? What is the extra-ethical space?

I think that among the various ethical responsibilities of a ballclub owner is keeping payroll as high as possible without undermining his or her ability to continue owning the team. In terms of the precise numerical disagreement, I don't actually know what that number is. I don't think I'll ever be able to know. I do think that a good baseline for a reasonable level of expectation is the recent payroll. The Red Sox have been highly successful on the field and have constantly sold out the stadium and picked up good ratings on NESN. I see little reason to think that their recent run has been economically unsustainable.

You appear to agree with me on this point. You have yet to argue that Henry may be in any sort of financial straits. Rather, you seem to object to the very fact of criticizing Henry's business choices, and you seem to think that we should not make judgments about the profits Henry takes. To you, as I'm reading this, a business owner's profit-taking is by its very nature outside the space of ethical judgment. I disagree quite fundamentally. A ballclub is a great example - millions of people have a strong affective connection to this club, and Henry in taking ownership pledged to do well by then, to build a winning club. He has made many, many statements to this effect. To go back on these pledges, and to shirk his responsibility to the fans that care about the team, by cutting payroll significantly over the long term, to me is a clear case of an action deserving of ethical judgment.
   134. karlmagnus Posted: January 05, 2009 at 03:44 PM (#3043398)
Henry would destroy long term profitability and the team's value by running a $10 million payroll. Equally, there's a recession, Sox and NESN income are both likely to be substantially affected and Henry's own cash cow is hiccuping rather than mooing happily. It's thus not unreasonable that he should cut payroll by 20-25% until clear signs of recovery emerge. That seems to have been his objective ever since they didn't extend Manny last summer. Equally, driving up Teix's cost to the Yankees makes sense, and so does snaffling an FA bargain (Sheets?) if he can find one.
   135. OCD SS Posted: January 05, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3043415)
remind me ow the lux tax works; it increases each yeare a team is over, right? If so, would it not be wise to have one year of team salary below the line, to reset the consecutive-years counter? Is this maybe what the Sox are doing? I don't have the previous years' team salary and tax threshold ##s.


It used to work this way, but I believe it changed with the new CBA; now once you've gone over, you're subject to an ever increasing tax rate.
   136. tfbg9 Posted: January 06, 2009 at 08:06 PM (#3044638)
FWIW, over at SOSH there's a thread where the topic is that JH's hedge funds
more or less made nice gains last year, up to November, the last month which
data are available for.
   137. villageidiom Posted: January 07, 2009 at 03:34 PM (#3045254)
You seem to object to the notion that there are better and worse ways for an owner to act, and think I am speaking fancifully if I make normative judgments about a business owner's actions. Is that correct?
No.

In terms of the precise numerical disagreement, I don't actually know what that number is. I don't think I'll ever be able to know. I do think that a good baseline for a reasonable level of expectation is the recent payroll.
All I'm saying is that deviations from that level of expectation could result from that not being a reasonable level of expectation. And from where we sit, with not much perspective into the long-term return John Henry was expecting (or even whether that was reasonable) and whether the short term payroll was getting him there, I find it hard to rely on that expectation, and by extension I can't object based on that expectation.

I see little reason to think that their recent run has been economically unsustainable.
And I don't presume to know.

To you, as I'm reading this, a business owner's profit-taking is by its very nature outside the space of ethical judgment.
No.

A ballclub is a great example - millions of people have a strong affective connection to this club, and Henry in taking ownership pledged to do well by then, to build a winning club. He has made many, many statements to this effect. To go back on these pledges, and to shirk his responsibility to the fans that care about the team, by cutting payroll significantly over the long term, to me is a clear case of an action deserving of ethical judgment.
First, you have yet to demonstrate that he has not built a winning club. On a relative basis, yeah, they could be better than they are; and you seem to agree that there's some limit to what he should spend even though spending more would make the team better. But maybe that's where we disagree... I think they are a competitive team, a winning team, even with the payroll roughly where it is (again, assuming they re-sign Varitek reasonably). I don't see that he has shirked his responsibility as you put it. Nor do I think a payroll level in that neighborhood will make long-term competitiveness unsustainable.

Second... You don't know what the proper dollar amount is, but you can say this is a clear case of an action deserving of ethical judgment. Put another way, you're clear on the conclusion, but not on the foundation underlying it. You certainly have a right to do that, but I still don't get why you seem so shocked that others won't do the same.
   138. karlmagnus Posted: January 07, 2009 at 03:39 PM (#3045259)
With only $257m under management and huge past losses I doubt if JWH's hedge funds are making any money at all, except to the extent he personally is an investor. Further, the problem was already there at the end of '07 -- which is why Manny was never going to get his option picked up and why he was right to leave. Even NESN will be less profitable in this recession. $50m Sox payroll in 2010, here we come!
   139. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 07, 2009 at 03:50 PM (#3045266)
I think there are two separable issues here.

1) In #137, you are talking about the current situation of the Red Sox. We both don't really know what's going to happen. It's quite possible that this is a one-year blip, or that the Red Sox will be highly competitive at this payroll level. Obviously I won't have too much trouble with them if that's the case. I don't think it's the most likely scenario, and thus I'm criticizing Henry and the ballclub, but we really don't know much of anything yet.

2) In #110, you said:
My point in #91 is that maybe what you and I are accustomed to - the historical levels of profit John Henry has been getting - is not actually "enough". I'm assuming John Henry knows the answer better than either of us. ... Maybe we've been damn lucky Henry didn't implode the roster three or four years ago, or refuse to field a competitive team in that time.
I responded (#112):
Just to clarify, this is not a scenario you would have "no problem" with, right? You would find this to be an objectionable way for Henry to run the team?
You replied:
No. I wouldn't have enjoyed the last 3 or 4 years as much as I have, but I wouldn't automatically object to Henry running the team that way in the short term.
This is about Henry imploding the roster and refusing to field a competitive team, and refusing because the total profit he has been taking (no one disputes he's been taking a profit) his simply not been "enough". You say you would not "automatically" find that objectionable. That's where a big part of our dispute comes from - that you claimed not merely that the current payroll and roster and strategy of the 2009 Red Sox may be defensible, and at least we don't have good knowledge of what they'll be, but you claimed further that in a hypothetical situation where John Henry lowers payroll and destroys the team's competitiveness for no reason other than to increase his profit-taking, you would not automatically object.

That's where the whole "extra-ethical" thing came from. We're talking about John Henry taking the Red Sox out of contention in order to fatten his wallet, because that was a hypothetical scenario you brought up, and then defended. You talked about it in #132 in terms of his "rights" as an owner, which is why I turned to the question of ethics - no one questionss Henry has a right to do what he wants, and he surely needs no defenders of his economic freedom. My point was that it's not a question of "rights", it's a question of better and worse, more and less morally objectionable actions.

You've now returned, it seems to me, entirely to the questions covered in (1), where our disagreement is real, but not particularly large, and we're both pretty willing to let the course of events decide who is right. If I have misunderstood you and you have felt our dispute was always around (1) and never around (2), then I apologize for misreading. Though I would like some clarification along the way. HTH.
   140. chris p Posted: January 07, 2009 at 04:11 PM (#3045281)
   141. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 07, 2009 at 04:21 PM (#3045301)
I read about that last night. That sucks. El Pelon, Rod Dee, and Umi right next to each other is one of the best single blocks of affordable good food in Boston.
   142. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 07, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3045310)
No to make light of an incident that appears to have cost several people their homes and others their place of business, but I couldn't help but laugh at this: Two firefighters slipped on the ice, but no additional injuries were reported

That must go over big down at the firehouse. Smoke inhalation? Third-degree burn? No, just slipped on some ice.
   143. Mister High Standards Posted: January 07, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3045311)
I don't think the RedSox signing a starting pitcher is likely, unless Wake is very likely to be unable to go.

Once CC went off the board, the marginal dollar of the transaction just went too high relative to other teams as their replacement level is just very high.

Of course this changes if they deal an SP.

For example, I see Lowe as worth only about 15 over the Redsox replacements.
170 innings (projected by Chone), at a 3.84 ERA vs, those innings at a weighted average of the projections for Masterson, Buch, Penny and Bowden of 4.66.

Paying Lowe 15 million, a year would be paying him nearly 10mm a marginal win.
   144. chris p Posted: January 07, 2009 at 05:23 PM (#3045394)
I read about that last night.

my brother emailed it to me with the subject: 'el guapo is no more' ... i thought garces had a heart attack ...
   145. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: January 07, 2009 at 05:33 PM (#3045405)
more bad news for red sox fans: http://bostonist.com/2009/01/06/apocalypse_on_petersborough_st_el_p.php


Oh. My. God. Are you kidding me??? Even Thornton's Grill had a decent brunch. I can't think of a more beloved group of good, cheap restaurants. It's like a tiny apocalypse.

At least Brown Sugar is still around, but it's just not the same.
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