Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Pedro to the Mess: Did the Red Sawx get played?

That's the real question in this whole affair. Did the Red Sawx get played by the Yanks? Obviously, if so, a meager measure of revenge. Nonetheless, let's trace the negotiations:

RedSawx and Pedro discuss two-year deal in $25M range. Clearly, the RedSux were leery of putting too much time on Pedro's contract considering his various arm ailments over the years and his ineffectiveness pitching on anything less than 5 days' rest (remember the graphic FOX showed in the WS about his ~4.47 ERA on 3-4 days off, sub 3.00 ERA on 5+ days' rest?). Pedro wanted three years and shopped around.

That's where Big Stein got in the picture -- primarily by meeting directly with Pedro. That had to alarm the RedSawx because when George meets with the player (Sheffield), the deal often gets DONE. The rumors swirled of a possible guaranteed third year from the Yanks; the RedSawx heard that and worried. Thereafter, the Mess made their 38M/3 offer and the RedSawx had to go up.

It seems clear that Pedro would have stayed a RedSawk if all things were equal. The Sawx made their pitch at 38.5M/3 but guaranteeing that money with a fragile pitcher meant taking a high risk: either Pedro would leave for a better offer, take the Sawx' money and be injured for significant periods of time, take the Sawx' money and be healthy. The last outcome was the least likely.

The Mess therefore took a huge gamble on a whim: get the best righty pitcher of this generation in the hope that he can stay healthy despite an awful DL track record and a reported tear in his labrum that you could drive a truck through.

Look: even a semi-healthy Pedro is good. Last year he was 16-9, 3.90 with more Ks than IP -- he just gave up too many dingers (26) and significantly more hits (193 in 217 IP; although that ratio is still pretty solid). In Shea, with ProPlayer and HankAaron Field as two main road stops, the homers should decrease. In a can't-hit division (except the Phils) and a 22% break in the lineups (8th spot and pitchers), Pedro's raw numbers could be better next year than they were in 2004.

But he has to stay healthy for four years . . . and the likelihood of that is miniscule.

For more, read a rare Jayson Stark column with a strong opinion: says Stark, the Mess messed up.

UPDATE: The Daily News reports the Red Sawx felt that they would re-sign Pedro, even at their overpayment of 38.5M/3, typified by this comment "one Red Sox operative noted with a trace of bitterness: 'If we had known this, we would've been heavier into Pavano.'" The backup plan now? Possibly Derek Lowe at an arbitration-inflated wage over $10M. Funny that the RedSawx complained about Lowe's partying, signed heavy-drinking David Wells and may now be only able to shore themselves up with Lowe again (Matt Clement may be with the Angels by tomorrow).

The synopsis of all this is: Pedro played the RedSawx and Mess for chumps, the Yanks snagged two live arms, Pavano and Wright, and could still obtain Randy Johnson. Sounds nice on paper . . .

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