All's quiet on the Red Sox front; more notes (cont.)
Also, Rodriguez's new claim that he didn't see any steroids in Texas after saying on TV that it was a "loosey goosey" time just didn't fly. He's on a team with Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro and several other steroid suspects, and he's taking them himself. And yet, he didn't see, hear or know a thing?
Boston contract talk: Bay and Papelbon
Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay, a nice pickup last year when Epstein was desperate to dump malcontent Manny Ramirez, suggested he'd like to talk about a long-term deal in Boston. Epstein said they've had "casual conversations" along those lines.
"That's something that's definitely a possibility," Bay said. "There's a lot of pluses. There are many factors to consider. But this team is set up to win."
Papelbon said he and the Red Sox were "so far off" that he didn't even consider their offer (or listen to it, he said -- he just took the word of his agents, the Levinsons). When I threw out a $30 million, three-year bid (my suggestion, not Boston's), he said, "I don't even know if I'd take that. I've got to go one year at a time."
Papelbon said he appreciated that the Red Sox rewarded him with a $6.25-million salary, third highest ever for a first-time arbitration-eligible player (behind Ryan Howard and Miguel Cabrera). But when it comes to a multiyear deal, he feels a sense of duty to go for the best and set the standard.
"If you're top three or four (at your position), you have a certain obligation to try to set the market," Papelbon said.
The latest from David Ortiz
Good news for a Nation. "I'm good to go," said David Ortiz, who was hampered by a wrist injury last season that needed rest.
Ortiz revealed the extent of Pedroia's dedication. Ortiz said Pedroia texted him in December writing, "I'm ready to rock somebody." And also that he was ready to put on his "laser show" (as in hitting lasers). Ortiz, not nearly as amped up in December, texted back. "Are you serious?"
Pedroia is the one Ortiz is always asked about back home in the Dominican because of his diminutive stature. "And people don't realize how little he is," Ortiz said. "You've got to see it to believe it." I'd say he could stretch to 5-foot-8 if he had hair.
Ortiz on Pedroia winning the MVP: "When I found out he won, I felt like it was me who won."
Wrong, guy, wrong age, bad team
How about those Nats? They're too cheap to sign No. 1 draft choice Aaron Crow but gave $1.4 million to an old imposter. Earlier this week, SI's Melissa Segura reported that 19-year-old prospect Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez is really 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, who was recommended and signed by GM Jim Bowden and assistant Jose Rijo, and is now a subject of MLB's scout-skimming investigation.
Technically, it appears some of the $1.4 million bonus didn't go to Gonzalez (or Lugo, to be more accurate), but as a 23-year-old, he isn't worth anywhere near that number. Nats owner Ted Lerner is probably baseball's richest owner with an estimated $4 billion. But he doesn't deserve to be ripped off like this.
It isn't enough for club president Stan Kasten to say he's "very angry," as he did, either. His organization is a joke.
Kasten had nothing at all to do with these shenanigans, but is said by sources to be seriously looking at a possible culprit or culprits within the Nats organization. Very sad. He headed a model organization in Atlanta, and now heads the worst organization in the game. Kasten isn't to blame. But he never should have accepted a job where he didn't have a say in who would work in his baseball operations department.
Around the majors
There's some indication Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is about to become more involved in the Manny Ramirez negotiations, which may help. Or it may not help. McCourt did take an active role in acquiring Ramirez last summer and has always been interested in all things Boston, particularly this thing which could make or break his team.
Ken Griffey Jr.'s well-known inner torment appeared to be at play in his apparent vacillation between Seattle and Atlanta. (He eventually decided to return to Seattle after a decade away.) MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote that he heard Griffey was starting to feel a sense of obligation not to let his fans down in Seattle, and that does sound like Griffey. "Legacy" was the first word a person close to Griffey used to explain his final choice of Seattle, the site of his original stardom. He's always put his family first, but now his family, which lives in Orlando, Fla., made concessions to allow him to do this. The money was about the same. The DH spot is a plus. But he also goes to the tougher ballpark. Tough call, no wonder the tormented one went back and forth.
The Braves will now look at Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds and Luis Gonzalez, three more left-handed hitting veterans. But GM Frank Wren said he's been impressed so far by their young outfielders.
Edmonds almost had a job earlier with the Orioles. But ironically, it was Baltimore's acquisition of Felix Pie that appears to have cost him that opportunity. Edmonds was acquired by the Cubs last year when manager Lou Piniella didn't think Pie could cut it. Baltimore had been considering using Edmonds as part of a first-base platoon, but now Luke Scott is expected to get that playing time.
Former Cy Young winner Eric Gagne got a deal for $1.5 million if he makes the Brewers' major league team, plus $2.75 million in incentives based on appearances. According to his contract, he can ask for his release March 26 if he's not on the 40-man roster.
It might have been a tough market overall, but it certainly didn't hurt to be versatile. Willie Bloomquist got a $3 million, two-year deal from Kansas City. And now Willy Aybar got $2.6 million over two years (plus an option year) from Tampa Bay. He also got a potential $1.75 million in escalator clauses over the three years, plus another $300,000 if he's traded this season. Not bad for a backup.
Final Ft. Myers thought
Maybe it won't hit you like it hits me every spring (maybe you are a deeper thinker than this), but if you come down here for spring training, you'll notice that the main street that connects the Red Sox and Twins camps is called Ortiz Avenue. It's just a coincidence, I think.