NASHVILLE - While other parts of Curt Schilling's contract, such as the weight clause, have drawn laughs - manager Terry Francona joked yesterday, "I think that's the first time Schilling ever left anything on the table," in reference to the financials of his deal - another portion of his contract was debated at the winter meetings.
In a session of the Baseball Writers Association of America, a resolution was approved that would render contract incentives for BBWAA-issued awards meaningless in the future. Prompted by Schilling's $1 million bonus for a single vote for next season's Cy Young Award, the BBWAA will consider any player with such a clause in his contract ineligible for any of its awards (Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and MVP) starting in 2013, with all current contracts grandfathered in.
"Give me a break," Schilling wrote on his website, 38pitches.com. "Don't get me wrong, 100k, 500k, 1 million dollars is a huge sum of money. But to think that these guys ever approached this as anything other than them being touted as the 'experts' on who wins what is crap. Add to that I seriously doubt anyone ever looked at this from a perception standpoint and thought wow, they are making this guy rich. I would disagree.
"The only step that hasn't happened yet is to stop them from voting on awards all together. They shouldn't do it. Any time someone is allowed to vote on this, on the Hall of Fame ballot, and that person injects personal bias into their vote, they should lose the [privilege]."
It's not the first time that part of a Schilling contract has come under scrutiny. When he originally signed with the Red Sox, Schilling had a clause that was technically illegal under baseball rules. He had an additional year of the deal vested at $13 million when the Red Sox won the World Series, which would be considered a performance bonus based on a team achievement.
As for yesterday's decision, the BBWAA will meet with the players' union and the commissioner's office in the wake of the vote.
"When we first started giving out these awards, it was just to honor somebody," BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell told the Associated Press. "You got a trophy, there was no monetary reward that went with it. I honestly don't think people vote with that in mind. But the attachment of a bonus to the awards creates a perception that we're trying to make these guys rich.
"The Schilling thing is disturbing because he doesn't even have to win. That's something that none of us finds very funny."
"Guess I am still a game-changer," Schilling wrote in an e-mail late last night.
Tavarez draws interest
Though it's not the sexiest deal on the table, there has been some interest in pitcher Julian Tavarez. The Red Sox picked up his $3.85 million option after leaving him off the World Series roster, but will probably end up moving him. He could be a reasonable starter and/or reliever, especially in the National League. "He's been asked about by a few teams," said general manager Theo Epstein. "Probably the interest will crystallize more when some comparable free agents are off the board. He's attractive to some teams. He's on a one-year deal, durable, versatile, and he threw well in an inconsistent role last year." The Red Sox also have the "parameters" of deals to a half-dozen free agents. Though the Sox would not sign all of them, deals could come together quickly . . . While Year 2 with the Red Sox was much different for former National Leaguer Josh Beckett than Year 1, Francona thinks Year 2 in the United States will be even more different for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima. "I think it's very realistic that their comfort level will be dramatically increased," Francona said. "I kind of marveled at these two guys over the course of the year. I mean, what they were going through, there wasn't a lot of relaxing times for them. You know, for most guys, standing out in the outfield during [batting practice] is a really relaxing time. You can talk to your buddy. For them, even that conversation was a chore. They went through a lot of firsts, and I thought they handled themselves really well, and I think it will be easier for them, yeah."
Wakefield has improved
After undergoing an arthrogram that showed no significant damage, Tim Wakefield is on the road to being ready for spring training. "He's not even restricted now," Francona said. "He tested out the other day great. By the time we got done playing, he was starting to bounce back. We just had gotten ourselves into a little bit of a predicament, and we went through all this. He was probably able to throw once and it wasn't fair to anybody." . . . The Sox are working out a deal to bring back reliever Brendan Donnelly, whose season was cut short by Tommy John surgery in August. Donnelly likely will sign a multiyear pact, given that pitchers normally take 12 months to recover from such surgery and the return on a one-year deal would be minimal . . . For the first time since 2003, there has been no Manny Ramírez chatter at the winter meetings. "I think teams realize that Manny's very happy to be a Red Sox," Epstein said . . . Doug Mirabelli is having a winter coat drive for children in Massachusetts and his home state of Michigan. Drop-offs of coats, hats, gloves, and mittens for kids up to age 18 will be weekdays between Saturday and Dec. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Sox Ticket Office . . . One reporter attached a pedometer to judge how far he walked in a day at the Opryland Hotel. His haul? Fifteen miles. And he's not alone. "The only thing that really put me on edge was the walk," Francona said of his week. "I mean, I've been lost more than - I don't know where I'm going. I don't think anybody else does. I've got blisters."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.