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Spinning the roulette wheel...

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  December 15, 2008 03:50 PM

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Sights, sounds, and observations after a few too many days in Vegas . . .

If and when the Red Sox sign Mark Teixeira, let’s not give them too much credit. The Red Sox are no more fiscally responsible than the New York Yankees, who spend more than the Sox only because they have more to spend.

During last week’s winter meetings, Sox general manager Theo Epstein noted that the current administration has spent more than $40 million on a contract only twice – for J.D. Drew ($70 million) and Daisuke Matsuzaka ($52 million as part of a $103.11 million commitment) prior to the 2007 season. It certainly sounded like the Sox were trying to justify their pursuit of a man who will end up with one of the most preposterous contracts in sports history.

Epstein offered this assessment of Drew, whom the Sox valued for the combination of offensive and defensive skills, the latter of which were important (to them) in right field at Fenway Park: "Maybe we valued him more than most for that reason, but he was certainly the right fit."

Sorry, but just can’t drink the Kool-Aid on that one. During his two seasons in Boston, Drew has batted .275 while averaging 15 home runs, 64 RBIs, and 82 runs scored while starting 117 games per season. After Manny Ramirez got traded, Drew had the highest average annual salary on the Red Sox roster.

  • Can’t say enough about the coaching job done by Bill Belichick this season.
  • At the end of the day, fans care only about the stories. Still, you should never underestimate the politics that take place behind the scenes in a world of supersaturated media coverage.

    Earlier this season, a high-ranking executive from a major league team allegedly responded to criticism from one newspaper columnist by threatening to leak a story to a competitor. During the meetings, the general belief among reporters is that the executive lived up to his promise. This is the kind of stuff that fans don’t really care about, but that reflects poorly on the self-absorbed people we generally cover who don’t have the character to accept their own failures.

  • Entering tonight’s basketball game at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Celtics and Bruins are a combined 43-7-4. Never imagined that we’d be in the midst of the winter sports season and the Patriots would have the worst defense in town.

  • Epstein generally has done a good job as general manager of the Sox, but not sure how Baseball America chose this season to honor him as their Executive of the Year. The Tampa Bay Rays had a payroll roughly $100 million less than that of the Sox and defeated Boston during both the regular season and postseason, which leaves no room for interpretation. Rays GM Andrew Friedman had a better year than Theo did.

  • If you’re Kevin Youkilis, you should approach negotiations with the Red Sox with caution. With their own players, the Sox clearly aren’t interested in signing deals that are fair so much as they are interested in signing deals that benefit the club. Epstein recently said that the club has a "policy" of signing long-term deals with its own arbitration-eligible or pre-arbitration players only if the Sox can buy at least one free agent year and get at least one club option.

    In Youkilis’s case, he turned down what he deemed an insufficient long-term offer last year and had the best year of his career. The cost for him has increased considerably. Had the Red Sox been more aggressive with Youkilis last offseason, they could have saved millions against the type of offer they might be forced to make him now, assuming they have interest in doing so.

    As for those players who took less to stay in Boston, one can only wonder if they regret the decision. Bronson Arroyo took less and got traded. Mike Lowell might soon suffer the same fate. David Ortiz took less and now earns less than Drew. Josh Beckett took less and has cost himself tens of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, the Sox have chucked piles of money at Julio Lugo, Drew, Edgar Renteria, and Matt Clement.

  • Somewhere along the line, someone needs to devise a system in which people who post comments on the internet are required to provide their real names and, perhaps, places of employment. This would help eliminate the legions of nitwits and cowards who shred anything and everything in their path while hiding in their mothers’ basements.

  • Let me say it again: I don’t regret what I said about the Red Sox and Jason Varitek last week. I regret how I said it. The Sox need to be careful here because, four years ago, they conducted the dog and pony show of naming Varitek their captain. In retrospect, that ceremony was a mistake -- not because Varitek was undeserving, but because the Sox now are in a position where they need to handle negotiations delicately.

  • Looks like Derek Kellogg has his first big win as a coach, eh?

  • If CC Sabathia walks after three years, the Yankees will be thrilled. New York would much rather have Sabathia for three years and $69 million than for seven years and $161 million. But the A.J. Burnett deal was a mistake.

  • Not convinced that the Mets bullpen will be considerably improved in 2009. Something suggests that Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz could be failures just as easily as they could be successes.

  • We said it before and we’ll say it again: NESN’s ratings for Red Sox games last season dropped by roughly 20 percent, which will obviously affect the network’s advertising rates. Seeing as how the Sox claim 80 percent of all NESN profits -- and that’s money the Sox do not have to share with other clubs -- one must assume that the Red Sox are focused on ensuring that interest in the team heightens in 2009.

  • In case you missed it, David Ortiz is now a 10-5 man, meaning he cannot be traded without his consent. Keep this in mind if you’re interested in keeping Lowell over Ortiz in the wake of the Teixeira pickup.

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    Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

    About Mazz

    Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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