Week of February 7, 2020

Still got it.

The Red Sox Trade of Mookie Betts is Outrageous

Mookie Betts is 27, one-year removed from an astounding 186 OPS+, 10.9 WAR, MVP-winning season in 2018 (which he followed up with a 6.8 WAR in 2019). The Red Sox traded him this week, to the god damn L.A. Dodgers, for pennies on the dollar. Why? In short, because they are cheap.

Betts will be a free agent after this season. He reportedly turned down a 10 year, $300M offer from Boston. That’s obviously a lot of money, but it’s the same deal Manny Machado signed for, and less than Bryce Harper signed for, and Betts is just…a lot better than both of them. An incredible hitter, a great defensive outfielder, a marketable personality, and a megawatt smile. He’s worth much more than Machado or Harper, and as a market setter for future players, he was right to turn down that money. He’s going to get way more this winter.

So the Red Sox will save upwards of $400M over the next decade by trading him, not to mention the $27M he was set to make this season. In the deal, they also unloaded David Price. Price’s best days are behind him, and he has 3 years and $97 million left on his contract. In return they got Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo who is good, but not great, and (probably) Twins pitcher Brusdar Graterol, a dude who throws 103 MPH smoke. Both guys make very little. So that’s roughly $60M they save this season. But that’s not quite right. Amazingly, the Dodgers got the Red Sox to pay fully half of Price’s remaining money. 

To recap, the Red Sox decided they didn’t want to pay a generational, home grown talent like Betts, so they dealt him and Price for two good but not great young players, and kicked $50M in for the Dodgers’ troubles. Swell.

The trade has been the biggest story in baseball this week, and the general consensus is that the Red Sox front office should be ashamed. As Grant Brisbee put it:

The Red Sox agreed to trade Betts to the Dodgers on Tuesday, and they should be embarrassed. They aren’t. But they should be. You’ll read about how this gives the team “financial flexibility” and how it’s important for them to “stay under the luxury-tax threshold.” That’s all crap. The Red Sox print money. The bills have pictures of Lou Merloni on them and they have bags of cash buried under each corner of Fenway Park. So much money.

As Brisbee points out – this is the friggin Red Sox. This isn’t the Rays, or the Tigers, or the Reds, or the Indians. This is a huge market deep with deep pockets that can spent any amount they like. They made their team worse now, and they made their team worse later. It’s hard here to argue they cleared money to spend on free agents later. They had the best free agent, as a homegrown talent, and decided not to pay him his fair market value. The Ringer’s Michael Baumann put it bluntly:

This trade is a disgrace for the Red Sox and for the league. I don’t understand why the owner of such a prestigious ball club—a de facto public institution—would charge his baseball operations department with ridding the team of a once-in-a-generation player when he could keep that player and continue to rake in unspendable profits. It’s such a mind-bogglingly greedy and self-defeating move that I resent being made to try to understand it.

I’m in favor of smart baseball, but if the Red Sox of all teams are going to do this, it does not bode well for the direction of the sport. And if your team tries to do the same, you should be angry. -TOB

Source: If the Giants Ever Do What the Red Sox Just Did With Mookie Betts, You Should Not Be Very Happy,” Grant Brisbee, The Athletic (02/05/2020); The Utter Disgrace of the Mookie Betts Trade,” Michael Baumann, The Ringer (02/05/2020)

PAL: Ryen Rusilllo made a good point about the Betts trade at the top of his podcast this week. That’s the best the Sox could get back for Betts – a friggin’ prospect pitcher with elbow issues and a borderline big league starter in Verdugo? B.S. 

If Betts flatout didn’t want to be there – fine – but wait for a better offer at the trade deadline. Let other teams feeling a little desperate and just close enough to a playoff race get in the mix!

And Brisbee has his fastball going in his article. I especially appreciated the idea of the obligation around keeping the rarest of players: home-grown Hall of Famers. 

Both things can be true. Both things should be true. You buy tickets and shirseys and they keep the 20-somethings on a Hall of Fame path. It’s not complicated. The Giants probably aren’t going to sign their next Brandon to a five- or six-year extension to lock him up deep into his 30s, but they should still do it with the next Buster. Or the next Mookie, if they have one. They probably won’t have one soon. Which is the point.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a big sip of battery acid and stare at the Dodgers’ projected lineup for next season.

The Warriors suddenly face a vital challenge: Can they awaken Andrew Wiggins?

No. – PAL 

Source: “The Warriors suddenly face a vital challenge: Can they awaken Andrew Wiggins?”, Anthony Slater, The Athletic (02/06/2020)

TOB: First of all, LOL. Phil’s post made me actually laugh out loud. But, second and super seriously – I disagree. Phil may recall that when Jimmy Butler left Minnesota, he more or less called Karl Anthony Towns a soft player and a loser. People thought Jimmy was a jerk, but I sided with him. KAT is soft, and he is a loser. I said within 2 years, history would prove him right, and I think it has. Wiggins was never going to be good playing next to KAT. He might be good playing next to Curry, Klay, and Draymond. I also think this is a smart play by the Warriors if they think their championship window with Steoh and Klay is still open. Wiggins’ game complements those two much more than DLo does. And, if the Wolves continue to suck as much as I think they will, that first round pick they got should be very good.

The Golf Course Architect Who Couldn’t Play His Courses

I think this will be the second story I’ve posted from the “Overlooked” series by the NY Times. I can’t help it. Such a great idea. 

A refresher: Overlooked are obituaries (written today) for folks that didn’t receive them at the time of their death. 

Joseph Bartholomew more than earned his NY Times obit honor. He spun a childhood job as a caddie into a career as a golf course architect. He designed many courses throughout the south, and it wasn’t until he built the first municipal course for african americans that he was allowed to play on a course he designed. He was good enough to be the club pro and teach lessons at country clubs, but wasn’t allowed to play the courses. 

What did he do? The same he did as a caddie. He listened and learned. After building courses, he got to know guys from whom he rented the construction equipment. Then he started a construction company, specializing in drainage (a good specialty in Louisiana). He took those profits and turned to life insurance, then real estate – which was smart because he also owned the construction company with the equipment necessary to upgrade the acres. Oh, and he built an ice cream factory, too. 

His key to success: embrace the risk, which was not so simple to follow the Jim Crow south.  “That’s the difference between me and most of the rest of the colored people. They won’t take a chance because they’ve been skinned before. I take ’em all the time.”

Joseph Bartholomew: August 1, 1888 – October 12, 1971. 

I’ll say it again: “Overlooked” is one of the best ideas I’ve come across. – PAL 

Source: Overlooked No More: Joseph Bartholomew, Golf Course Architect”, Roy S. Johnson, The New York Times (02/05/20)

Video(s) of the Week:

Tweet of the Week:

Song of the Week: Jose Feliciano – “Just A Little Bit Of Rain”

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I got away with everything under the last boss and it wasn’t good for me. So I want guidance. I want leadership. Lead me… when I’m in the mood to be led.

-Ryan  ‘Fire Guy’ Howard


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