Breaking down the Beckett deal

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With nothin’ but night games and not enough of the season behind us for it to have yet created its own newsy momentum, today is a bit slow. So let’s go back to yesterday and look a bit more closely at the Josh Beckett deal. Pfun Pfacts:

  • The team had asked Beckett to include a medical
    contingency clause
    in his contract that would have, presumably, slashed his salary in the event that he later got hurt, thereby transferring the risk of injury to the player rather than the team. As I wrote back in February, this is the Red Sox’ new m.o.  They did it with John Lackey and J.D. Drew. They tried it with Bay, but he wasn’t having it. The team would have to offer more money to the player for it, but I have this feeling that players like their guaranteed money too much to respond kindly to these offers. Gambling is illegal for ballplayers, after all.
  • Also, Beckett’s initial demand to the Sox had apparently been for Carlos Zambrano money: five years $91.5 million deal with vesting options.  This comes from WEEI’s Rob Bradford. I hope that Bradford used Zambrano’s name first for comparison purposes and not Beckett’s agent for negotiating purposes, because you’re not going to go very far in life trying to get people to do for you what the Cubs did for Zambrano.
  • Finally, the Red Sox are clever: by waiting until after Opening Day to announce the deal, the Red Sox
    avoided having the extension count towards this year’s luxury tax, saving the team around $4 million for those purposes in 2010. Of course, it just pushes the full $16 million of it on to next year, but presumably David Ortiz and Mike Lowell won’t be on the books next year, so the sunlight between the Sox’ payroll and the luxury tax threshold will be much greater. If Ortiz and Lowell are still hanging around at luxury tax-threatening salaries, someone call the cops, because Theo Epstein will have been abducted by the pod people. Or maybe Brian Sabean.

I’m late to the assessment party, but a good deal for the team, I think. Probably a good one for Beckett too given that he could post another 2006 or 2008 kind of season and see his market diminish considerably this offseason.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.