Sad to see them go

Sad to see them go

Personal, Baseball

Sad to see them go

Goodbye, and Good Luck!

Matt “Doc” Perry

March 3rd, 2020

I don’t even know where to start…

I know I’m late to the party, but I can’t really get past the results of this baseball offseason. Mookie Betts, David Price and Brock Holt are all gone.

It’s true I was never a huge fan of Price, I said that many times in numerous posts, but he did eat innings and as a 3rd or 4th starter he wasn’t half bad. I took more umbrage with his opinions off the field, especially his spat with Dennis Eckersly over being called out on his mediocre performance one night. He’s a tip Dave: When a Hall of Fame pitcher says you were a little off, take him at his word. He’s not trying to be mean. You were a little off.

I also won’t be sad to see his albatross of a contract (or at least half of it) go either. That was the budget room the Sox needs to be able to sign Mookie Betts to a…. wait…. shit.

Mookie is gone. Gone in the sense that he’s not coming back to Boston accept on a visiting teams plane. There are very few generational talents like that, and while I understand the reasons the ownership group used to explain their actions, the don’t feel right. It doesn’t pass the gut check, and I think that’s what most Red Sox fans are struggling with. It just feels wrong to do that to a player that could have easily been one of our greats if he stayed and continued his production.

This is the saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time

A lot of people can’t get past the “Sox are rich, open the checkbook” point of view, which is funny, because that’s exactly how we get contracts like David Price, Pablo Sandoval and Carl Crawford. I understand that sports is a business, and a very lucrative one at that, but large contracts change off seasons like this one. Knowing you have X amount tied up in a player and you can’t go get pieces you need can be aggravating to a front office (I’m assuming). Shorter team friendly contracts make life easier. Again, doesn’t “feel right”, but business rarely does.

“Just go over the tax!” say some others. It’s not like they haven’t in the past. The difference is that it compounds and continues to climb. At one point being over the tax threshold costs an additional 50% tax on the additional payroll (per 2012 CBA). So, you can have a payroll of $250 million, but you’re paying +50% on 42 million of that. So, 42 becomes 84 million, and now your combined payroll is north of 300 million… when it’s supposed to be 208.

The Red Sox went over in 2004, 2007, 2010-11, and 2015-16, and paid just $25.1 million in combined penalties because they kept resetting it every couple years. The Yankees, by comparison, went over, consecutively, 2003-2017 and paid $319.6 million in taxes. The Yankees are the richest team in baseball, and even they could barely afford that, and needed to get back under 2 years ago.

So, there are legitimate tax reasons, but that still feels like an excuse. Why trade Mookie just for a tax break?

They didn’t. They traded him because they knew he wasn’t coming back. We don’t know what went on in meetings or in talks with agents, but he’s said from the very beginning he’s getting to free agency and getting a payday. As he should. I’m not trying to begrudge the man, his talent is generational, he deserves everything he’s going to get. He’ll be the highest paid player next year, I’m sure of it. I think at some point the Red Sox realized that those sorts of numbers we the end goal for him and they had to make a choice. The couldn’t keep him this year, AND pay that next year. They had to move payroll if they’d have any shot at him returning.

I just don’t feel like he will. I think the way it went down, the back and forth, the low-balling extension talks, I think this will play out just like Jon Lester. He’ll play for the Dodgers in 2020, and then hit free agency and get a massive payday from some team like the Braves or the Twins or the Angels who have cap space to spare ($32m, $53m and $20m respectively) Can you imagine the Angels with Trout and Betts? That’s nightmare fuel.

So, I don’t even think it was that much of a choice in the end. Something, at some point, gave them the impression he didn’t want to come back. Like when the check engine light comes on in the car, but it seems to be running ok, and you don’t want to take it in because you just know it’ll be some big problem you don’t want to deal with right now. Well, the light was on, the car was running fine, but something was going to be expensive down the road. So they traded it in before it got bad. They cut their losses and tried to get something out of it.

They got Alex Verdugo and two prospects, which might not look like a ton, but considering the Dodgers are eating enough of Price’s contract, and they get to restock the farm a little, it isn’t half bad. They’re having issues at second, which Downs might be ready to take over in a couple years, and a catching prospect with power is like a unicorn these days. Verdugo, provided his back doesn’t shatter, can at least hold a spot in the outfield. So, it’s the lemonade from lemons.

I don’t like it, you don’t like it, no one likes it, but when life gives you lemons you either make lemonade, or you burn the house down with the lemons. Not really a whole lot of options in between.

Now, as for Brock Holt, I’m fully engaging homer-mode and going to say that this simply doesn’t make any sense. It’s not like he was asking for a ton of money. He signed a one year deal with the Brewers. According to Holt he waited and waited on the Sox to call, but they just never did. That’s probably the saddest thing out of all of this. They never even talked to the guy. Instead they signed Martin Perez and Jose Peraza.

Peraza is the closest to Holt in terms of production and fielding positions, but ostensibly the same stats wise. So, if Holt contained all the intangibles, and the numbers were similar, why the motivation to get slightly younger in the utility roll? We just don’t know. Peraza is slightly younger and slightly cheaper. That’s about it. They’re saving maybe 1-2 million, and losing a club house guy and several years of experience. I just don’t get it. After moving Price and Betts, they still have cap space to spare. You can’t tell me they couldn’t find $4m and just sign him to a 1 or 2 year deal? That’s a price you pay after trading your superstar, if for no other reason than some clubhouse stability in the aftermath.

It’s just weak. It’s more disappointing than Betts in many ways.

With Betts you know you’re buying (or selling) a Ferrari. You know it’s going to be expensive, but you also know you’re going to get ridiculous horse power. With Holt, he’s the perfect commuter card (and that’s not an insult). It’s a safe bet. He’s reliable. He’s “cost effective”. Why trade in a car you’ve had and liked for a lease on a very similar car? Now you’ve got another car payment and no upgrade, and the seats smell different.

I don’t know. I’m more or less disenchanted with the entire thing. I can see the direction the front office is headed, and it’s a lot more “Athletics and Rays” and a lot less “Dodgers and Yankees”. Who knows, maybe it’ll work out. Maybe we’ll pick up some random pieces and the prospects will pan out and we’ll get back to the playoffs in a couple years. I’m hoping for a “scrappy” team some time in 2022.

That’s also something the younger fan base doesn’t understand. Everyone cries and complains. “How could they do this, we’re doomed” or “It’ll be another curse!” Please. This isn’t a Red Sox problem, every team does this. This isn’t a “21st century problem” either. I saw them do this to Boggs, to Mo Vaugh, to Nomar, to Clemons, to Lester, and a whole host of other players that they’ve already forgotten.

It’ll be ok. This year there will be baseball played. That in itself is enough. If you’re only rooting for a team when the times are good, what sort of fan are you?

There will be baseball, and that is enough.

Go Sox.

Diamond Kings

When I saw the initial “preview” of Diamond Kings a couple months ago I thought I could safely ignore it as a product I didn’t really have any interest in. Then I saw the checklist. Then I saw it in person. Now I’m all in. I love these cards. They are awesome. Panini has done an exceptional job with these.

2015_DK_Ortiz_AKAPapi (more…)

Recently Acquired

I was going to say “What I’ve Been Buying Lately”, but that’s George’s thing, and I didn’t want to sound like I was ripping that off. Quite honestly, this spring has been absolutely boring. With the exception of Gypsy Queen, which I’m on the fence about, and Diamond Kings, which I’ve loving, there hasn’t been anything to really get excited about. Bowman is boring this year, I can’t actually find any USA Baseball or Prizm for that matter, and nothing else interesting gets released until Ginter in July. I was going to pick up some Americana, but then I saw the checklist was mostly hollywood stars and musicians and kind of tuned out. So, random single cards with combined shipping was the order of the spring.


2015 Series Uno

I don’t think I ever bothered to post my Series 1 team set, or my impressions on the design. To say I’m a bit behind is an understatement. Honestly, there just hasn’t been all that much to excite me this winter regarding baseball cards. I knew what Series 1 was going to look like back in the fall, when Topps previewed the design. It’s different, it doesn’t have a white border, it’s generally not terrible. Oddly enough I find myself looking for the “foil” versions and they’ve seemingly limited them quite a bit. No super shiny odd-colored parallels, which is a good thing. Just a “rainbow” version which is very lightly chromed. I think they’re going to exploit the ever living heck out of that fact for Chrome this year, but that’s to be expected.

I think what I was most put off by was that my team set wasn’t really complete. It’s not the fault of the seller I purchased it from, although they did the same thing for Heritage and it’s a bit more aggravating, but they compiled an incomplete set and peddled it as a “Master Set”. Again, it’s mostly Topps fault. You can’t really pre-sell something that you don’t know what the contents are going to be. In this case, it’s hard to sell a set when Topps doesn’t give you a checklist. My set was missing two inserts (one unannounced and one retail exclusive) that I had to hunt down after the fact.

Normally, hunting for a card is half the fun. It’s the “sport” of collecting. If something is hard to find it’s more of a satisfaction once you find it. In this case however, they’re just inserts, cheap ones at that. The “fun” aspect of tracking them down is replaced with frustration that I have to do it in the first place. “Have to” is also relative. No one forces us to find these cards. I believe there’s a little “completionist” in all of us that needs these cards, but even that little voice needs to occasionally shut up.


It’s not a bad set. The design is interesting. I like the texture it has. It’s also has quite a few rookie cards. I don’t remember another year where there were five or more Red Sox RCs in Series 1. I guess that’s what happens when you blow up the roster at the trade deadline and bring up half of the AAA team. A lot of guys get their required games to be considered rookies.


I love the photo on JBJ’s card. I have my doubts that he’ll start the year in the Majors, my money is firmly in the Mookie Betts camp, but it’s an awesome card regardless.2015_Topps_Series1_Boston_Set_04

Inserts time. I don’t quite understand how Cespedes is “Inspired Play” and was “inspired by” Jim Rice. The highlights cards are kind of plain, they’re just filler.


Again, I’m not getting the “archetypes” cards. I could think of about 20 other players besides Cespedes who exemplify the Red Sox and who’s playing style is an “archetype” for others. Yaz, Fisk, Rice, I could go on. The “Gallery of Greats” was one that I had to track down. Hobby only. I would have assumed that it would have been in my “Master Set” seeing as how I’m paying for “All the Inserts”, but apparently I’m wrong. People need to work on their definition of “master set”. I like the idea of the “Free Agent 40”, but the explanation of the insert set is a little weird. “Free Agent 40 (15 cards, 1:8) looks at some of the biggest signings over the last four decades.” Ok, I get that, but “40” makes it sound like either the players are 40 years old, or there are 40 players in the set. I guess alliteration trumps logic.


Here’s the last card I had to track down. Retail only. A little “ESPN” feeling with the “techno-border”, but a neat insert set in general. Like GQs “Glove Stories” in a way. This one was also not in my master set, despite the seller opening both retail and hobby cases. On the upside, these weren’t exactly hard to find. While I was at it, I also picked up a couple of the relics from Series 1…



There’s a couple others out there as well, I forget if there are 4 or 5 on the checklist. I’m not terribly concerned with plain swatches these days, especially when they can be picked up for $0.99. I’m sure I’ll get some more eventually, but these two seemed like a good start.


Lastly, from the same seller, they had some of the “Spring Fever” cards as well. I was able to pick up the Ortiz and the Pedey, but they were all out of the Hanley Ramirez card. I’ll have to track that down, begrudgingly.



So, I’m a bit late with the Jon Lester pity party. Actually, there’s not that much pity to throw around. If the Red Sox were truly serious they would have offered him an appropriate contract last spring. They were looking to be cheap, thought he might take a discount, and misread the free agent market. It happens. I really liked Lester. He’s a solid pitcher, a top of the rotation guy, and he’ll be missed. There’s no ill will against the Cubs either. Theo threw “crazy money” at him and it worked. The Cubs needed someone. They desperately needed a face for the franchise and now they have it. I wish Lester and the Cubs all the luck in the world.

That said, we need to move on. Pitching needs to be acquired. As much as I want to believe in each and every prospect, you certainly can’t start the season with Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and 3 guys from AAA. There were also the other problems that needed addressing. Will Middlebrooks’ performance, too many outfielders, etc.

So far, Cherrington seems to be maintaining the trust of the Fenway Faithful. He’s made moves that, for the most part, have made sense. He’s bolstered the infield, added a few key bats, and started the rebuilding process with the rotation. Let’s take a look at the players who’ll be changing zip codes.


Fire Sale

Today is the MLB trade deadline and holy crap, it’s been insane. It’s 1pm (central time), so there’s still a little time left, but there’s already been major moves, most of them centering around the Red Sox.

Red Sox sent Lester and Gomes to the A’s for Yoenis Cespedes and a Comp B pick

I was honestly hoping that the Sox would hold on to Lester and get a contract deal done by the end of the year. He was easily our #1 starter and the loss stings. On the flip side, the acquisition of Cespedes is insanely good. There was no way I thought the A’s would part with him. The Red Sox needed help in the outfield, desperately and went out of got it. The real question is, after the rental of Lester to the A’s, would he be willing to come back? Having Lester and Cespedes in 2015 would clearly be better than Cespedes alone, but they’re going to have to throw crazy money at Lester to do it. Does getting traded sour Lester on Boston in general? That remains to be seen, but in my mind he’s gone for good. Losing Gomes as well would have been bad without a replacement, but Cespedes more than makes up for any production loss. So, essentially, we upgraded left field but lost an ace, who was going to be a free agent anyway. Food for though, Cespedes has out homered the entire Red Sox outfield, combined, this year.

I’ll give it a B for now, an A+ if they can somehow resign Lester in the off-season

Red Sox send Lackey to Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly

I’ve never liked Lackey, there, I said it. Something about his mouth-breathing weirdness, I don’t know, he just never really impressed me. He wasn’t going to pitch well next year, he looked like he had given up. He was talking retirement rather than make the league minimum on this extension/club-option year. Getting anything more than a bag of balls for him was a win-win. It gives the Cardinals a mid-rotation guy that has post season experience while giving Boston another bat (Craig) to try and get something working as well as a potential back of the rotation replacement (Kelly). IF Kelly works out, he’ll be joining a whole platoon of young pitchers from Pawtucket. Best of all, since we’re clearly abdicating this year, you can let them all get some big league experience. Webster, Barnes, Wilson, Workman, De la Rosa, now Kelly. Let’s see what the kids can do!

Final review – A-. Lackey was done. Getting something for nothing works for me.

Red Sox send Jake Peavy to Giants for Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree

Yes, this happened prior to today, still counts. I liked Peavy, and I know he liked Boston (he even bought a Duck Boat), and he was great in the post season, when we needed him the most, but something never really fit. He never got any run support, he never really endeared himself to fans. If we had gotten Peavy 4-5 years ago, I would be more upset, but it seems like he might be past his prime, he’s getting ready to retire as well. Getting Escobar (a starting pitcher) who’s just on the edge and ready to be brought up and Hembree (relief pitcher) has a lot of upside coming out of the bullpen, was certainly better than just letting Peavy walk after the season.

Trade Grade – B – Not so much for the loss, but for the two players in return may/may not work out

Red Sox send Andrew Miller to Baltimore for Eduardo Rodriguez

Hmm, initially I didn’t like this one. I really really liked Miller. He’s a solid, proven, highly valuable, left-handed reliever. I’ve never heard for Rodriguez. The only thing that slightly changed my perspective is that Miller was going to be a free agent. It had been reported, multiple times, that Miller liked Boston and wanted to resign. So, the question is, is this another rental? Will Miller want to come back? What did we get in return? Apparently Baltimore’s #3 prospect, although the numbers don’t really bare that out. He’s 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in Double-A. I don’t really understand how that’s a good deal. Miller was dominant. I hope, pray, that they “know” that Miller will resign in the off season, otherwise this one is a loss.

Trade Grade – D

Steven Drew to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson

Who in the hell is Kelly Johnson? Doesn’t matter. Steve Drew is gone! Huzzah! Getting anything more then a bucket of popcorn for Drew is a huge win.

Trade Grade – A++

Bottom Line

The Red Sox are a better team today than they were yesterday. Yes, they gave up pitching, but they were potentially losing FOUR of the pitchers at the end of the year anyway. Getting anyone, let alone several solid pieces, in exchange is kind of a best case scenario. In my mind, major league baseball players (and major league “ready” players) are under-valued and low-minor league players and prospects are over-valued. If you can get major league usable players, now, to me that’s better than taking the gamble on prospects who might not work out. Also, not only do you have pieces you can plug in now, you have an excess of prospects you don’t technically need. Those all become trade bait for the off season. If Edwin Escobar never pitches for Boston, but gets traded for someone else who might, that’s not really a loss is it?