Red Sox fill shortstop void with Marco Scutaro

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Marco Scutaro’s contract with the Red Sox is a two-year deal with a mutual option for 2012 and ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has the monetary details:
Signing bonus: $1 million
2010: $5 million
2011: $5 million
2012: $6 million team option, $3 million player option, or $1.5 million buyout
Technically that means Scutaro is guaranteed at least $12.5 million over two seasons, but he has the ability to extend the deal to a minimum of $14 million over three years and if the Red Sox exercise their 2012 option he’ll end up with $17 million total.
Boston having to give up next season’s first-round pick to sign Scutaro makes the deal significantly different than Philadelphia signing Placido Polanco, but strictly in terms of years and money the Red Sox are assuming quite a bit less risk than the Phillies.
Polanco is guaranteed $18 million over three years and as much as $22.5 million over four years. Scutaro is guaranteed $12.5 million over two years and as much as $17 million over three years. Scutaro was quite a bit more valuable than Polanco this season, but they were both born in 1975 and Polanco has a much better pre-2009 track record. Toss in the fact that Polanco didn’t require giving up a first-round pick to sign and those differences certainly explain some of the higher price tag.
Losing a top-30 pick hurts given how well Boston has drafted recently, but based solely on the contracts I’d rather have Scutaro. He’ll be paid less than Polanco in each of the next two seasons, at which point the Red Sox can choose to cut bait while the Phillies will be paying a 36-year-old Polanco over $6 million in 2012. And while 2009 was a career-year for Scutaro, his combined .270/.354/.382 line during the past four seasons is fairly similar to the .307/.351/.411 mark produced by Polanco over that same span.
Sending a first-round pick to Toronto for the right to pay Scutaro at least $14 million for two seasons is hardly ideal, but given the weak crop of free-agent shortstops and seemingly sparse trade options Boston did pretty well to land him without assuming as much risk as Philadelphia did with Polanco. How well Scutaro will hit going forward is certainly up for debate, but he’ll be an upgrade regardless after Red Sox shortstops hit just .235/.297/.358 this season.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.