Winter Meeting Odds and Ends

I’m the first to admit I don’t love the idea of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek doing Boston’s catching this season. It’s not Varitek’s right-handed at bats that bother me. It’s his arm, it’s his pitiful LH swings and it’s Salty’s bat that are the problems. But Russell Martin? The Sox are supposedly in on Martin today despite the fact that President Obama’s healthcare plan was still politically popular the last time Martin enjoyed success. Now Martin does come with good platoon splits against lefties and his throwing numbers dwarf those that we have grown accustomed to seeing in Boston. And if the Sox want to give him a one-year deal that will help Martin restore his value, I’m down. But I just don’t like the idea of locking this guy for two years and certainly not if that second year is guaranteed at a number that doesn’t come out in the wash. The Sox like to play these high-upside slot machines (Penny, Smoltz, Wade Miller) but after hitting on Beltre last year, it seems a little soon to expect another payout.

* There is some talk in the lobby that teams are sniffing around on Daisuke Matsusaka. This has generated the predictable …. “who would be dumb enough to pick up that guy’s contract.” For the record, Matsusaka is owed a little more than $10M in each of the next two seasons. And based on the numbers, that is exactly what he’s worth. In fact, if you believe in Bill James, Matsusaka might actually be a bargain in 2011. I am sick of the guy and am ready to see him exported to another club but let’s be clear, Matsusaka is not a candidate for a salary dump.

* Is Carlos Beltran the left-field “patch” the Sox are seeking? Unless an awful lot of money is coming back in that deal, I will pass. That said, if it’s $10M for Beltran in a Mets dump or $7.5 and a good prosepct for Josh Willingham, I take the former.

* Does anyone really think there is a seven-year deal out there for Cliff Lee? I called Morgan Stanley this morning, got the borrow, and shorted this rumor. Seems like nothing more than a false-leak from Lee’s team to pull another $10M from the Yankees. Not only are they leaking the rumor, but they are also leaking the justifying precedent … which is Kevin Brown got seven years and he also was 32. My hunch is the Yankees will take this down at 6/140.

* I find this maddening …. It’s a “tweet” from SI’s Jon Heyman …. “even tho cliff lee has two 7-yr offers, #yanks could steal lee with todays monster 6 year offer. expected to be $140-150 mil.” Jon, it isn’t “stealing” when you are the top bid and 6/150 tops 7/140. To be perfectly honest, “yankees” and “stealing” haven’t belonged in the same sentence for 92 years.

* Based on all of Heyman’s tweets on Lee this morning, it is clear the Yankees are in his ear and they are confident. I am getting more comfortable with my short.

* Andy Pettite … the only thing that separates you from Brett Favre is the fact that the media doesn’t have cell phone pictures of your “Randy Johnson.” Enough already … you are either in or out. Since when do three-time all-stars with career WHIPs of 1.36 get to hem and haw about their retirement plans this much?

S* ounds like the Jason Bartlett to Baltimore deal is off. Doesn’t it make some sense for the Sox to move in and offer Scutaro here? They reportedly were shopping Marcos earlier this off-season and Scutaro’s profile mimics Bartlett. Similar money. Similar numbers. So what about Scutaro for Mike Gonzalez? The upside here is Francona would no longer have the ability to play the wrong guy at SS and Gonzalez gives the Sox a nice lefty out of the pen so long as he is healthy. (that is obviously a big if but Gonzalez did finish 2010 healthy and strong.)

* The Rangers want a first baseman. So how about this move by the Red Sox. If Beltre’s market implodes, the Sox move on Beltre and then flip Youkilis down to Texas for Nelson Cruz. Why would the Rangers do that as Youkilis is set to earn $37M through 2013 and Cruz is just entering arbitration? (Assuming a logical pay/performance progression, Cruz will probably earn ~22-24M over the next three years) Well, first off, Cruz is just a year younger than Youkilis so that is not a big issue. Two, Cruz had not one, not two, but three DL stints a year ago, all hammy related. That has to be a concern and certainly more so than the busted thumb that sidelined Youkilis last August. Three, the Rangers have some in-house OF options ready to take Nelson’s spot (Murphy-Borbon-Hamilton) and with Smoak in Seattle and Chris Davis in offensive bankruptcy, they might not have a great option at first (Moreland?). Four, they pick up at least one “win above replacement” and perhaps two in the transaction. The Sox, meanwhile, pick up the right-handed OF bat they want so badly and one that won’t become expensive for two more years. The Rangers are probably the one who says no as those dollars are not inconsequential but the Sox could sweeten.

* Paul Konerko cashed in on a great 2010 this morning with a 3/37.5 that has $6M in deferred money. That is a nice haul for a guy who would have probably been in line for a 2/16 if his 2010 looked anything like his 2008 or 2009.

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