Kat O’Brien of Newsday has a good rundown, based on the account of “an official involved in negotiations,” of the ebb and flow between the Yankees and Scott Boras, Mark Teixeira’s agent. Scroll down for that part of the story. To a degree, it implicitly questions to what degree the Yankees are guilty of profligacy, especially since the Yankees only outbid Boston by about $12 million over eight seasons. I say this because there has been so much caterwauling about the Yankees’ outbidding others, despite the fact that many other teams were involved in negotiations with the players the Yankees acquired, that many other teams have very high payrolls and, as Max Kellerman points out in a good Christmas Eve podcast, that other teams such as Boston proportinately outspend the Yankees relative to the size of their home market.
Justin Sablich at Tyler Kepner’s Bats blog at The New York Times importantly reminds readers in a Christmas Day post of a very good post Alan Schwarz wrote on Bats in early December. In it, Schwarz detailed that Teixeira’s forays into professional baseball began with a rather negative experience with the Red Sox in which, according to Teixeira, the Red Sox got other teams to shy away from Teixeira, who committed to Georgia Tech, before drafting him in the ninth round. As they did, it was with what Teixeira referred to as a take-it-or-leave-it offer of a $1.5 million bonus that Teixeira interpreted as a financial ceiling instead of a floor. Teixeira ultimately turned down the offer, played at Tech, then re-entered the draft with a $9 million contract from Texas–a wise move on his part and one that possibly jaundiced his views of the Red Sox organization, pre-Henry and Epstein.
It could be that Teixeira was assessed as a sizable gamble by all major-league clubs since he committed to Georgia Tech. It could also be that there was more to the give-and-take to those negotiations a decade ago, that we’ve heard but one side of the story. However it could also be that Teixeira’s version of this represents another in a long line of incidents in which Boston failed to land or keep a good player during the Dan Duquette era.
I’ve been reading Pete Golenbock’s Dynasty lately–quite a good, entertaining, and informative account of the Yankees’ tremendous run from 1949-1964. As I read through it, I’ve been struck by how many other books have based their accounts on Golembock’s–Steven Goldman’s Forging Genius and David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49 come readily to mind. It does a good job of weaving chronological narrative with retrospective interviews and insights of the Yankees and individual players, though the magnitude of the project and its scope sometimes operates to the detriment of fuller details and deeper analysis of particular events and years. Nonetheless, it’s well worth checking out.
Pete Abraham has a very good post on Chien-Ming Wang and what he perceives as the lack of respect Wang has received from the Yanks. Based on a story that Pete Caldera did for The Bergen County Record, in which pitching coach Dave Eiland said about Sabathia and Burnett, “That’s as good a 1-2 punch for me as you’re going to find,” and that “Wang’s as good a No. 3 as you’ll find as well,” I agree. Abraham and I are on the same page about Wang being the number 2 starter, with both of us basing that assessment not only on Wang’s excellent record but also what potential lies in sandwiching two power pitchers around a power sinker to throw different looks at teams. Pitching coaches and baseball analysts frequently discuss the effectiveness of pitchers by their ability to change planes and speeds. What is difficult to measure but no less likely a component of success is how pitchers’ various abilities interact with each other. For example, Eddie Lopat’s junk-ball mastery of even great hitters such as Ted Williams, who according to the late great author David Halberstam in Summer of ’49 frequently referred to him in profane reverence as “That fucking Lopat,” was successful not only because of his own abilities and smarts but also how his stuff looked to hitters who had faced hard throwers such as Vic Raschi and Allie Reynolds throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s. I also think Burnett’s strikeout ability–always a flashier statistic and ultimate veto to hitting–versus Wang’s being a ground-ball machine, combined with the understandable excitement surrounding the Yanks’ signing Burnett, has blurred just how good Wang has been. 54-20, 3.79 ERA, back-to-back 19-win seasons in 2006 and 2007, historically low and efficient pitch counts–Wang is an ace, Mr. Eiland. I hope that Wang takes his rightful place at number 2 in the rotation, both for the respect that he deserves and, more importantly to me, the different looks the Yankees can give teams thanks to Wang’s unique stuff. Neither Wang nor the Yankees have done anything in my mind that should displace Wang from one of the top two spots in a much-improved rotation for 2009.