Friday, November 13, 2009

MLB Update: The Curse of Big Papi, Yankees Free Agent Frenzy, and Joe Mauer's Future With The Twins

I'm a guy who likes a challenge.  Overtime, extra innings, championship game; you name it and it gets the blood flowing.  Now I don't swing freely, I take on calculated bets.  I know when I step into the ring that odds are pretty good that I leave victorious.  In fact, Mark Twain said it best:
“I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.”
A week ago, when Rob Burckhard (your normal baseball author in this time slot) suggested a friendly side-wager on our matchup in the 2009 SportsJudge Fantasy Football League, I took a look at the standings and our rosters.  He's toiled in last place for essentially the whole season, and I had Drew Brees, Wes Welker, and Chad Ochocinco leading the way for my squad.  I'll be honest, I didn't want to just beat Rob, I wanted to walk him kindly to a quiet place and put him out of his misery.
I propose a challenge to you, Mr. Colligan.  I win and you owe me a First to Third baseball column and if you win I will write a guest post on anything you would like.  Are you up to the challenge?
         - Rob Burckhard

Needless to say, here I am.  I haven't written on baseball for a few months, so I felt it would be a good opportunity to vent about a few random ideas that have been floating around in my head this summer and fall.

Yankees win, but what about that "curse"?

For the first year in a while, I lost a little interest in the MLB playoffs.  In July, it was pretty obvious the Yankees were the cream of the crop.  Barring a total collapse, the only thing I could think of to derail this team was "the curse".  Remember?  The construction worker who thought it'd be a great idea to bury the Big Papi jersey under new Yankee Stadium.   Well we all saw how well that worked.  Not only did the Yankees win a World Series in the first year of the new stadium, Ortiz batted a terrible .238 with a career high 134 strikeouts.  With that in mind, I can't help but wonder, at what point was this ever a curse?

Yankees win, but what about the purse?

Ah, the wonderful cost of winning a championship.  It happens every year, in every sport.  Bring home a title, and all of a sudden those second and third-tier role players heading into free agency start seeing dollar signs.  For the Yankees, the focus is on vintage free agents Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Andy Pettitte.  The latest I've heard is all three are set to "test the market".  How does that make sense?  How do you leave the Yankees to test a market set by the Yankees?  I guess you call the Red Sox?  Seems pretty silly to me.  Not too surprising that agent Scott Boras is in the middle of the pile here, as well as with Matt Holliday.

Joe Mauer and the future of the Twins

Speaking of agents, Buster Olney had a great piece at ESPN Insider on upcoming contract extension negotiations between the Minnesota Twins and agent Ron Shapiro, acting on behalf of client Joe Mauer.
The fact that Shapiro is representing Mauer should not be dismissed as a factor in these negotiations, because while the catcher -- whose talents are unique, when cast against history -- is ultimately going to get a whole lot of money no matter where he winds up, Shapiro's history of negotiating suggests that money will not be the only issue.
Olney went on to discuss Shapiro's negotiations on behalf of Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken, Jr., both of which resulted in big money for the superstars.  Yet more importantly, he stressed that Shapiro did it the right way.  The Twins have always had a reputation for not just bringing in talent, but bringing in great guys.  It's no surprise that a class act like Mauer has an agent like Shapiro representing him in contract talks.  Even if it costs the Twins $25M a year to hang onto the MVP catcher, there won't be yelling, screaming, and threats to the media.  It'll get done the right way.

Other News and Notes:

- Fanhouse posted a list of players eligible for arbitration on their 2010 salary.

- identified all the important dates on the path to Opening Day 2010 (April 4).

- No surprise here, Jim Thome wants to finish his career in Chicago.

- Red Sox and Marlins fans, this Thanksgiving be sure to give thanks to the 2005 trade the defined your franchises.

- Hard to believe Ken Griffey, Jr. can get resigned this quickly, while Barry Bonds is unemployed.

- Ken Rosenthal at FOX reports the Pirates won't hesitate to trade catcher Ryan Doumit, as if this is a surprise.  Pirates willing to trade players away? You don't say.

- I'll leave you a photo of Derek Jeter playing Derek Jeter in the upcoming movie "The Other Guys".  I'm pretty sure Joe Torre would not have allowed that haircut.

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Brian Doyle said...

There was no Big Papi curse because the Yankees went out of their way to dig the jersey out of the concrete.

Rob Burckhard said...

Thanks for writing this, Mike. The good part about losing last week was that the readers got to read something entertaining for their Friday baseball fix!