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.

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel lead 19 newcomers on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot

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Hall of Fame ballots for the 2018 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. Among the top newcomers: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Kerry Wood and Jamie Moyer . There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.

The newcomers, in alphabetical order:

Chris Carpenter
Johnny Damon
Livan Hernandez
Orlando Hudson
Aubrey Huff
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Jason Isringhausen
Carlos Lee
Brad Lidge
Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millwood
Jamie Moyer
Scott Rolen
Johan Santana
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Chipper Jones, the 1999 MVP, one of the best switch-hitters of all time and the unparalleled offensive star of the great Braves teams of the 1990s and early 2000s seems like a shoe-in. His case is boosted above his fantastic offensive numbers in the eyes of many voters by virtue of playing for the same team for his entire career.

Jim Thome is probably going to get a very large vote total and possibly will be inducted, having hit over 600 homers in his career. A challenge to his first-year induction is presented by the very large backlog of deserving candidates, which we’ll discuss in a moment, and by the fact that Thome’s career corresponded with baseball’s home run boom of the 1990s. Unlike other passed-over candidates of his era, Thome was never implicated in performance enhancing drug use, but it is the case that homers became cheaper for everyone during his career, and some may consider him a one-dimensional candidate. I suspect he’ll be in Cooperstown soon, be it this year or next year.

Omar Vizquel will receive a lot of support but his candidacy will also draw a lot of controversy. His backers will cite his defense and his longevity. His detractors will note that his defense was nowhere near as good as other defense-first inductees in the past such as Ozzie Smith, and that it was in no way good enough to make up for his below average bat. Complicating all of this will be fact that two superior defensive candidates who happened to have outstanding offensive numbers to go with them — Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen — are unlikely to receive anything approaching the level of support Vizquel will get, leading to . . . a lot of arguing.

And now the holdovers from last year’s ballot and ballots past, with last year’s percentage of the vote in parenthesis. Candidates need 75% of the vote in order to be inducted:

Barry Bonds (53.8)
Roger Clemens (54.1)
Vladimir Guerrero (71.1)
Trevor Hoffman (74.0)
Jeff Kent (16.7)
Edgar Martinez (58.6)
Fred McGriff (21.7)
Mike Mussina (51.8)
Manny Ramirez (23.8)
Curt Schilling (45.0)
Gary Sheffield (13.3)
Sammy Sosa (8.6)
Billy Wagner (10.2)
Larry Walker (21.9)

We’ve talked about all of these guys before, of course. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero seem likely to be elected given how close they came to induction last year. Many quite worthy candidates such as Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling will likely continue to receive less support than they deserve. PED-associated candidates Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a boost in their previously-flagging candidacies last year, getting over 50% of the vote for the first time, but it’s unlikely that they’ll jump 22 and 21 points, respectively. Lesser PED-associated candidates such as Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez will likely forever remain on the outside looking in.

The results of the election will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, live on MLB Network.