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Curious case of Teixeira far from closed

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  January 5, 2009 08:43 PM

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So Mark Teixeira will become a Yankee today. Finally. Maybe now we can all get some answers.

Nearly two full weeks since news of his agreement, Teixeira will be in the Bronx today as the Yankees formally announce his acquisition. Along with the slugging first baseman, Yankees owners Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, as well as general manager Brian Cashman, are expected to be in attendance. Superagent Scott Boras also is expected to be by the side of Teixeira, otherwise known in these parts as "The One That Got Away."

Whether or not you wanted to see the Sox spoon over $170 million (or more) for Teixeira’s services, some questions need to be answered here. Since the Teixeira news first leaked, representatives for the Sox, Yankees and Teixeira (not to mention Teixeira himself) have not addressed the series of events that led to his signing with the Yankees. In this day and age of media manipulation, that is both highly unusual and extremely suspicious, no matter how much lobbying all involved parties have done ex parte or in sidebar discussions.

So, now that the Teixeira signing will be official, inquiring minds want to know:

1. Did the Red Sox really have a chance?
Presumably, the Sox will say no and Teixeira will say yes. We may never know the real truth. Red Sox officials clearly feel as though they were used by both Boras and Teixeira, meaning that the player's signing with New York was a forgone conclusion. For Teixeira to admit this publicly would be terribly foolish, particularly when Boras must continue to negotiate deals for future clients.

Locally, the Red Sox will come off as far more believable in this argument for obvious reasons. We know them better. Sox officials are as adept as anyone when it comes to playing media games and manipulating the masses -- in this day and age, sadly, such gamesmanship is a virtual necessity -- but the Sox generally have been forthcoming on many matters, particularly during those infamous "background’’ and "informational’’ discussions where information is shared.

As for Team Boras, take this into account: Earlier this offseason, one source in the agent's camp indicated the Red Sox could have locked up Teixeira with an offer of $176 million over eight years. The same source said that the Sox declined. What the source did not reveal was that the proposal included a pair of vesting options that would have brought the deal to $220 million over 10 years. Withholding such vital information that makes the entire exchange downright deceitful and manipulative.

2. Does Teixeira harbor any ill will toward the Red Sox?
With regard to this decision, the Red Sox are obviously the ones who feel spited. The question is whether Teixeira’s decision to go to New York had anything to do with the problems he experienced with the Red Sox upon being drafted by Boston and then-general manager Dan Duquette out of high school in the ninth round of the 1998 draft.

In October, while the Red Sox were facing Teixeira and the Los Angeles Angels during the American League Division Series, Duquette recounted the events during which negotiations between the Sox and Teixeira broke down. Duquette and then-scouting director Wayne Britton believed they had an agreement in place until Teixeira hired Boras and things broke down. According to the Teixeira family, Britton got emotional and the family was treated poorly.

Whatever took place, Teixeira opted for Georgia Tech and was drafted again three years later, this time in the first round, by the Texas Rangers, with whom he signed. Though Duquette and Britton are no longer with the organization, there are some who believe that Teixeira still resents the Boston organization.

3. How much did New York’s acquisitions of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett factor into Teixeira’s decision?
From Boston’s perspective, this is an important question. If Teixeira says that he was interested in the Yankees regardless, the Red Sox will get strong indication that any efforts would have been for naught. The Yankees were a far more attractive option in late December than they were in the middle of November, when New York looked like a team in disarray.

If Teixeira says the acquisitions of Sabathia and Burnett influenced his decision, he is admitting that the Yankees had to convince him to come to New York. Seemingly, that would suggest that the Red Sox had their best chance early on in the negotiation, when an extremely aggressive offer might have gotten the deal done.

As it was, Teixeira was able to wait and draw out the process, sacrificing nothing along the way. The Red Sox always were there as a fallback if the Yankees failed to improve their pitching. Had the Sox taken a more aggressive, take-it-or-leave-it approach early on, they might have forced Teixeira’s hand. (Or not.)

4. How aware were the Red Sox of the Yankees’ involvement?
Clearly, Red Sox ownership and management are comprised of extremely bright people who generally have done a fabulous job. That’s not the point. In this case, given New York’s wants and needs -- specifically with regard to pitching -- the question is whether the Red Sox truly believed the Yankees were in on Teixeira or whether they believed New York’s interests were focused elsewhere.

Early on in the offseason, the Yankees acquired first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher in a trade with the Chicago White Sox, leading some to speculate that New York would not be in on the Teixeira talks. As it turned out, Swisher was a nice decoy. The Yankees subsequently focused on pitching while keeping Teixeira on the back burner, which may have created a smokescreen.

If the Red Sox did regard the Yankees as a threat throughout the process, the biggest question concerns the Sox’ attempts (or lack thereof) to sign Teixeira early on. Assuming the Sox had put forth their best possible offer at that stage, Teixeira’s resistance at that time might have been an indication that he had no intention of ever signing with them. (Yes, this is second-guessing after the fact.)

5. Can Boras and the Red Sox still do business?
The answer to this question is probably yes, but one can only wonder. Part of the problem is this type of negotiation is that people begin spinning the media and whispering into friendly ears when things get ugly, which only complicates the process. Just once, it would be nice if people answered questions honestly -- and if reporters all eschewed "background’’ and "informational’’ discussions for the purpose of getting to the truth.

Boras still represents a number of Red Sox clients, including J.D. Drew and Daisuke Matsuzaka. He also represents Jason Varitek, who is a free agent. The Sox’ last two conclusive dealings with Boras have involved the Manny Ramirez fiasco and Teixeira, raising serious questions about the relationship between the agent and team. Boras seems to harbor no ill will toward Epstein, though his camp is quick to portray Sox president Larry Lucchino as the bad cop given Boras’s adversarial relationship with Lucchino.

In the wake of the Teixeira development, has any damage been done to the relationship between agent and team?

Or, in the words of the Corleone family, is this all chalked up to being just part of a dirty business?

Editor's note: Tony will be in New York for today's press conference. Check this spot later this afternoon for Tony's take and answers to some of the above questions.

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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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