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Diminished clout (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday January 31, 2007 12:09PM; Updated: Thursday February 1, 2007 4:18PM
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Much ado about Drew

Despite the flap over J.D. Drew's contract language, it's unlikely that he will have to forfeit any of the $70 million he is owed.
Despite the flap over J.D. Drew's contract language, it's unlikely that he will have to forfeit any of the $70 million he is owed.
John Iacono/SI
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One thing that never made sense was how much was made out of the long-delayed Drew contract. One New York newspaper seemed to have a column a week on this not-hot topic. Yet, it was obvious from the lack of panic on the part of both Drew and the Red Sox that the deal would get done, and it was indeed completed last week with only minor revisions. The Red Sox can get out of the contract for 2010 and/or 2011, but only if Drew is forced out of action for 35 games due to the exact shoulder condition in either 2009 or 2010, and only if a panel of three doctors agrees that was the case (Boston's doctor, Drew's doctor and a third impartial doctor).

Boston's doctor is the one who originally suggested the shoulder could be a problem. But Drew's doctor, the esteemed James Andrews, apparently disagreed, saying there isn't anything unusual to worry about.

In any case, Drew is covered if he has a rotator cuff problem or one of many other shoulder problems, just not the exact problem that was surgically corrected for at least the specified length of time (35 games). In other words, there's almost no chance Drew won't be getting the full $70 million on his contract.

The Schill is not gone

Big surprise. Curt Schilling has decided not to retire after all, following in the footsteps of his hero Roger Clemens, who is the master of unretirement. Schilling said on WEEI, Boston's flagship radio station, that he intends to pitch in 2008. I have an idea: Let's all agree not to write it when Schilling claims he's going to retire.

One positive note: By continuing to play, at least no one has to endure Schilling as a politician (though it seems a natural fit for him in some ways).

Helton talks hit Rocky spot

Rockies owner Charlie Monfort's recent comments about how reluctant they were to surrender Todd Helton gave me the opposite impression; it made him look more desperate to deal him. Monfort's words to the AP, "This is Todd Helton we're talking about. We're not just going to give him up for nothing," turned out to be true in terms of the players they wanted in return. But the reality is that they were offering to pay to trade Helton, offering to offset about $40 million of the $90 million remaining on his deal to be rid of him (or more precisely, to be rid of his contract).

Ultimately, Monfort did announce they were backing out of the deal, leaving Red Sox GM Theo Epstein with only four major acquisitions this winter: 1) Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2) Drew, 3) Julio Lugo, and 4) a wife (according to the Boston Globe, he got married without fanfare this month). But before the Rockies pulled the plug, they'd talked to several teams about Helton (the Angels were another), and from here it looked like they were the ones driving these talks. Perhaps it's because the info was coming out of Denver (the Denver Post first reported the talks over the weekend), it never seemed like Boston was as anxious to make a deal.

The Rockies, who previously tried to peddle Helton to the Angels, left the impression they would have done a deal had Boston been willing to surrender any one of their top prospects, including Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen and Jacob Ellsbury. But as one Red Sox person put it, "We have a lot of issues, and we weren't about to give up one of our top guys in this deal."

The Red Sox are especially reticent after being burned last year while surrendering Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez in the fairly regrettable Josh Beckett trade, and they are doing the right thing here in holding the line on trading young talent. It isn't only the prospect but the fact that Helton's production has dropped precipitously the past couple of years. The first year out of the comfort of Coors and in a new league had to be concerns, too. And so was "the physical" aspect, as one Red Sox person put it, as Helton missed a lot of time last year with an undefined stomach ailment.

Boston people weren't too happy that it somehow got leaked that Mike Lowell and Julian Tavarez were to be included in the deal (remember, Epstein is the guy who kept his own wedding a secret). Monfort, who earlier this year stuck his foot in his mouth when he criticized the ever-productive Matt Holliday, did quite a bit of talking about this deal and it's nice to see an owner so cooperative with his local media. But on occasion, some things are better left unsaid.

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