Archive for 2008 Winter Meetings
I’m camped out in the Rule 5 Draft war room, and I have to say there’s way more people here than I would have thought. I’m not going to take a picture of the room because there’s not much to see; lots of chairs, a podium on the stage and two big projection screens with a simple yet fancy R5D logo. I’d estimate that there’s room for about 500 people in here.
The big event starts at noon eastern, and I’ll be live blogging the whole schabang. Until then, you can check out some previews from Chad Jennings, Jonathan Mayo, and John Manuel. I know it’s the same software, but it’s not a chat, it’s a liveblog. I expect this thing to go by pretty fast, so I won’t be answering any questions. Maybe afterwards if I have time, but our flight is leaving pretty soon.
So Joe and were just sitting around here in the press room, surfin’ the net and the such, when Scott Boras walks by followed by an army of reporters. I’m not kidding, there were about 40 or 50 people following him. He marched to the front of the room, stepped up on the little camera stage and launched into an impromptu press conference. Out of nowhere the guy storms into the room and commands everyone attention; it was pretty impressive.
Here’s the notable stuff he said:
- When asked about how many teams have expressed interest in Manny Ramirez, he estimated that “nine or ten teams can use a three-four bat,” which wasn’t the question.
- Boras feels the Sabathia deal “creates a path” for the remaining pitchers on the market, specifically citing Derek Lowe. He said Lowe’s received a ton of interest, ditto Oliver Perez, the “26 yr old lefty who’s pitched in big games the last few years.”
- When asked if Jacoby Ellsbury would be open a Pedroia-esque long-term deal, Scott didn’t answer the question, instead noting that if it gets to that point his job “will be easier because it’s mid-January.”
- He called the market for Felipe Lopez very good, noting that teams recognized his versatility, “his ability to start at second or play the outfield.” Lopez has played 17 games in the outfield in his eight year career.
- Joe Crede’s recovery from his back injury is going well, he’s going to start “skills drills” in January. Boras also called Crede an All-Star 3B, which made me laugh until I released that he was selected as a reserve this year. The guy hit .252-.323-.463 in the first half; how much do you think Boras paid Tito to take him?
- When asked if anyone other than the Sox have made an offer to Varitek, he went off into a ramble about how he wouldn’t get into the number of teams that have inquired.
- He believes Eric Gagne will get a closer’s job somewhere. Good luck with that.
Mark Teixeira was the hot topic, so he gets his own little section:
- He mentioned that he has received several concrete offers for Tex’s services and is currently in the counteroffer phase. It was the exact same question that he had ducked about Manny.
- When asked if the Nats losing 102 games would turn Tex off from signing with them, he specifically mentioned Pudge signing the Tigers the year after they lost 116 games as an example of players doing it before. He also noted that it would be nice to play for a team with the first overall pick in the draft, but he didn’t mention Steven Strasburg (his client).
- Boras doesn’t expect the Sabathia contract to eliminate the Yanks from the running for Tex, indicating that the Yanks have historically shown the desire to improve the team by any means necessary.
- He mentioned all of Tex’s skills (hits for high avg, gets on base, hits for power, Gold Glove defense) and noting that the only comparable player on the market next year was Matt Holliday, and that Prince Fielder won’t hit free agency until after 2011. He’s already laying the groundwork for the future.
Someone also asked Boras if there was any conflict of interest since he was representing so many high profile players. He said no of course, and mentioned that he has a 15 person staff here. It was pretty cool, you can tell he loved the attention.
I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot since landing in Vegas. Most everyone in the media room is a journalist. They for the most part work for large media corporations and are paid to deliver information to fans. This is done through a veil of objectivity. I say veil because everyone has their biases, and there’s no down-the-middle objective view of most topics. (For more on that, you can read this guy’s archives.)
River Ave. Blues, on the other hand, is written by fans, for fans. We don’t hide our biases; for the most part, they’re right up front. This extends beyond our team bias into our biases regarding individual players, coaches, front office executives, analytical methods, and in-game strategies. When we say something, you know where we’re coming from. Or at least that’s our hope. If you’re looking for neutral sports coverage, this is not the place for you.
The question I can’t seem to answer is, what does a neutral POV bring to the table? My best guess is that we get more accurate information if the report comes from a dispassionate observer. Otherwise, this line of thinking goes, we’re subject to a fan’s biases, and therefore won’t be getting the real story. We’ll be getting the story as spun by someone emotionally attached to the situation. As I said above, though, even a supposedly neutral bystander has his or her own biases. They’re just not as up front, as they have to feign objectivity.
As you can tell, I prefer fan coverage. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing this. While it’s nice to have someone gathering facts, I don’t think that necessarily has to come from an “objective” party. I think passionate fans can make the distinction between when it’s appropriate to act professionally and when it’s appropriate to express your fandom. Problem is, the old guard doesn’t believe that, so they tend not to hire the likes of Ben, Mike, and me. Yet I think we’re perfectly capable of handling ourselves in a press environment while retaining our die-hard ties to the Yankees.
I thought of all this last night while the Sabathia situation unfolded. I lamented to Mike that there was zero chance of us walking into the press room on Wednesday morning and high fiving the New York press corps. I thought that would have been cool. Woo hoo! We got our guy. Now let’s go find Cashman and see what’s next.
Before I wrap up, I just want to add that this is not a slight on the crew that covers the Yankees. I enjoy reading them, and have enjoyed their company, however brief, during the Winter Meetings. I also understand that not all of them are necessarily Yankees fans.
So I’m not saying that everyone who covers a team should be a fanatic. I do think, however, that the notion of an objective reporter is outdated. We’re all passionate fans. Don’t you enjoy reading the commentary of and engaging in conversations with other die-hards? I don’t think you’d be here if you didn’t.
While I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this topic, this is also the open thread for the evening. So have at it.
Just a couple of items to whet your appetite for rumors:
- The Braves seem to be taking advantage of the Yanks’ preoccupation with CC, as they’ve been working through the night to sign A.J. Burnett. Many of us believe this is a good thing.
- Signing CC could mean that the Yanks are out on Mark Teixeira. I wouldn’t believe that at all. If we’ve learned anything from these Winter Meetings, it’s that no one’s sure of anything.
As always, links courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.
From Tim Brown and Gordon Edes of Yahoo! via MLBTR, we learn that Sabathia’s contract will contain an opt-out clause after three years and $69 million. So if Sabathia opts out after the 2011 season, he’ll be leaving $92 million on the table.
Many here at RAB, me included, aren’t too excited about the prospect of signing Derek Lowe to any kind of contract, never mind a four-year deal. Yet, that appears to be close. Via MLBTR, we hear that the Yanks are/were discussing a four-year deal with the free agent righty. He was on WFAN this morning, where he said the Yanks are closing in. Clearly, the Yanks are tending to bigger matters, both figuratively and literally, right now. Lowe could clearly be next, though.
At that point, Sheets makes even more sense over Burnett. Why sign three pitchers to seven, five, and four-year contracts? Seven, four, and two sounds much easier to swallow.
So the entire podcast has just been overshadowed. As we were recording, we learned that Cash is in San Fran to meet with CC and Amber Sabathia. Tomorrow, we will make sure to re-load RAB (and other relevant sites) while we record.
This is nothing but good news. No guarantees, of course. Hopefully we hear something later tonight. I can only ask one question: Why would CC request a second meeting, then request that Cashman fly out to San Fran, knowing he’s in the middle of a fairly big event? It might not mean he’s signing, but it’s a pretty clear indicator that he didn’t reject the Yankees offer.
We talk about the Girardi press conference. It was nothing breaking, but Joe dispensed the information with ease. As I said before, he seems calm and loose with the media. Hideki Matsui as a 4th OF, though? I’m not so sure I like the sounds of that.
There’s plenty more, so click on through.
Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.
We appreciate any feedback. You can leave it in the comments or email either of us.
Considering baseball’s checkered past with gambling the current and long-standing outright ban on players and managers placing money on their teams, it is not without some irony that the Winter Meetings are currently taking Vegas by storm. As part of the wall-to-wall media coverage of the meetings, Jack Curry took some time out to figure out how Vegas sets the odds, and his story on it is illuminating. Right now, the Red Sox and Cubs are at 5-to-1 to make the Series next year while the Yanks sit at 6-to-1, but as Curry writes, the odds can change overnight. It all it takes is the signing of one free agent.
Girardi and Media Relations guru Jason Zillo
Pictures by Mike, commentary by Joe
As with most managerial interviews, we didn’t learn a whole ton by listening to Girardi. He did seem loose, though, and took the time to elaborate on all answers. Judging from just this interview, I have a hard time believing he’s not good with the media. Joe’s a friendly guy by all appearances, and I hope he takes this into the season with him. Perhaps the media will be a bit easier on him this time around.
Here are some tidbits we picked up:
- He was very impressed with Ben Sheets after meeting him yesterday. I suppose he’d have to be, considering the Yankees plan to offer him between $26 and $30 million.
- On CC, he says that the lefty is still trying to figure out the whole situation. Girardi then went on to talk about his own transition to New York after the 1995 season, noting that while he wasn’t getting nearly the money or years offered to Sabathia, he could understand what the free agent is going through.
- On Andy Pettitte, he said that both parties are interested in bringing him back. But: “There’s a process that has to take place.” Emphasis mine. It seems that line is bandied about frequently regarding Pettitte. Now that we know the team’s offer is $10 million, it seems that “process” means “convincing him to take a paycut.”
- On the coaching staff: They won’t take long to mesh. He noted that Mick Kelleher has been around Spring Training for a few years, and everyone’s familiar with him. Other than that, the staff remains basically the same, save for a few minor moves.
- On Hideki Matsui: Girardi sees him as a fourth outfielder as well as DH. I wonder if that changes as they get further into workouts. Clearly, Hideki is more valuable as a full-time DH if that means he can stay healthy. It’s a huge risk if they play him in the outfield with any regularity.
Update by Mike (5:00pm): Forgot to mention this, but Girardi said that Posada’s rehab was going fine. He’s throwing from 60 feet and is on schedule.
Ken Rosenthal says the rumored Ramon Hernandez for Ryan Freel deal has been agreed to, and is pending MLB approval because of the money changing hands. We’ll update with more as we get it. The Matt Wieters Era begins.