Sox owner John Henry arrived earlier today. The MLB owners are gathering for two days of meetings that start tomorrow. I also just spoke to Theo Epstein, who said no deals involving the local nine were getting done tonight.
A few impressions after the first day:
• The GMs and even a few agents are being unusually tight-lipped about players. MLB and the MLBPA agreed earlier this year to try and limit comments in the wake of the union bringing what amounted to charges of collusion against the teams.
The union doesn’t like the idea of GMs confirming or denying interest in players, saying such statements hurt the value of free agents. The teams don’t want agents making statements about what teams are interested in their clients as that could hurt their leverage in other deals.
To some degree, that makes sense. But what about growing the game and increasing interest in baseball during the winter? In the end, we’re talking about putting rosters together, not nuclear disarmament. Let the Hot Stove simmer a little.
• Get used to the idea of playoff expansion in 2012. At this point it’s not a matter of if it happens, it’s what the format will be. The general sense is there would be five teams in each league with the wild card winners playing for the right to face the top seed. That could be a three-game series.
• Execs seemed pretty surprised at what John Buck received from the Marlins (three years, $18 million). Victor Martinez had to be happy to hear those numbers. If the likes of Buck is worth $6 million a year, Victor has to be worth at least $10 million, if not more.
• Epstein is prepared to hold his nose and give a reliever a multi-year deal. Such contracts are gambles given the inconsistency of most set-up men, but the Sox would seem to have little choice.
“What we’re trying to avoid is the overreaction: The pitcher who has an up and down career who had one good year and you lock yourself into a three-year deal for that pitcher then you’re surprised when he doesn’t live up to it. That really hamstrings you. That’s the type of thing you try to avoid,” Epstein said.
“But no club operates in a vacuum. You can’t just pick the player and pick the contract you want. You have to be competitive in the marketplace. We work hard to try and find the most reasonable deals we can.”
• New Mets GM Sandy Alderson took part in the afternoon meetings and will conduct managerial interviews over the coming days despite the death of his father on Saturday. John Alderson, 87, was struck by a car in St. Petersburg.
Alderson is a sharp guy and will soon make the dysfunctional Mets contenders again.
• There are five media outlets from Boston here covering the meetings. There are five or six teams who have one reporter here and at least one (the Padres) who have none. Having grown up here and worked only in the northeast, it’s always amazing to me that there are places where baseball is not a big story all year long.
That’s it from here. Come back for more tomorrow and, as always, thanks for reading.