Come on down David Price, you are the next ace up for the Boston Red Sox.
After the Red Sox whiffed or “Larry Lucchinoed” on the Jon Lester contract negotiations, they had no choice to correct their mistake. The fix cost them a seventh year and anywhere from 47 to 62 million depending on how the Lester contract pays out. That’s about three years of say Rick Porcello, Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval so no problem.
This was a no-win situation for Boston. Critics who point to the Sox overpaying to make this deal happen would have also criticized the Sox if they didn’t land an ace this offseason. What other option did the Red Sox have? The alternatives this offseason were Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmerman. Greinke is going to either re-sign with the L.A. Dodgers or go to the rival S.F. Giants and the money will be similar to Price. Johnny Cueto has too many questions and someone will overpay him reactively as he will be the only option left.
You could argue that the Sox should have been in on Zimmerman, as five years and 110 million for the Tigers is a lot better than seven and 217, but Zimmerman has not pitched in the American League, is not battle-tested in the slugger-filled A.L East and has only pitched two playoff games (one good and one bad) so small sample size there. Bottom line is the Washington Nationals set the market last season for an ace pitcher when they signed Max Scherzer for seven and 210.
Price’s agent successfully negotiated an opt out after year three but I have a hard time believing that it will be worthwhile for Price at age 33 to pass up 124 million over the remaining four years especially if he is happy in Boston. The good news for Boston is they do not have to surrender a compensatory draft pick as part of a previous contract clause.
My concern with Price is less that he breaks down and more that he fits into the Boston media and fan culture and embraces the team. This will now be his fourth team in nine seasons which is very unusual for an ace pitcher. Tampa Bay is not exactly a media hub, he pitched for Detroit for parts of two seasons and he only had the positive in Toronto during that special run. What will it be like when things get bad in Boston and 30-40 media members are crowding his locker after a bad start?
As for Price’s noted playoff struggles that I broke down in a previous blog, it is something to be a bit concerned about, but at the end of the day, you have to hope that a guy with a bulldog mentality and an awesome pedigree will eventually figure it out when it matters most.
With that said, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous who acquired him this past season says “He’s probably the best teammate I have ever seen.” Anthopolous added “His work ethic is off the charts and he makes everybody else on the team a lot better. He brings something else more than just the two ERA and the 240 innings and everything else. He leads. He sets a great example. He’ll be a great get for any team that gets him.”
After recently acquiring all-star closer Craig Kimbrel and former Yankees outfielder Chris Young, Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski has completed his stated three offseason priorities. With that said, I don’t believe he is done. The Sox are reportedly in on Braves pitcher Shelby Miller and the Sox starting rotation still lacks a #2 starter although there are plenty of 3,4 and 5 options.
Will the Price acquisition awake the Yankees from their free agent slumber? Two years ago, New York spent close to 300 million to acquire Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. McCann’s power production has been good but he has hit a shockingly low .232 in back-to-back seasons. Beltran has missed 82 games and has hit .254 averaging 17 HR and 58 RBI and Ellsbury had a great first year but awful second year while missing 51 games.
The Yankees acquired outfielder Aaron Hicks from Minnesota to replace the departed Chris Young and are reportedly dangling Ivan Nova, Brett Gardner and closer Andrew Miller. The Yankees have an improved farm system and I simply don’t believe they won’t make a move to acquire at least a #2 starter during this offseason.
Stop Picking on Me
Shaquille O’Neal was a true pioneer. He pioneered complaining about being targeted because of his size. He felt he was fouled more often and harder than anyone in the league because he could take it. It also might have been because he was a horrendous foul shooter but now I am nitpicking. Then LeBron James carried the torch with the same complaints. Finally, the L.A. Lakers took it so far as to file a complaint with the NBA on behalf of Dwight Howard in 2013, also a notoriously bad foul shooter regarding unfair treatment by the officials.
This brings us to “Gronk”. All these offensive pass interference calls and questions of being targeted. Gronk is probably being targeted in the same way the aforementioned players were and are. Deal with it. It goes with the territory of being a dominant physical specimen and behemoth. Everybody wants to help David more than Goliath.
A much more significant concern is players trying to target Gronkowski’s or any other player’s lower body specifically his knees to tackle him. Broncos’ free safety Darian Stewart simply picked up the ball that T.J. Ward left in trying to injure Gronkowski. Yes it is hard to tackle a player of that size and hitting low is your best shot, but why is there an emphasis on protecting a quarterback from getting taken out at the knees but not the rest of the players. Until this issue is addressed, frequent injuries to Gronk like this will be an ongoing concern.
As for the Patriots-Broncos clash this past Sunday night, the whole tenor of the game changed late in the first half when Dont’a Hightower left with a knee injury. Denver was stagnant offensively until then and all of the sudden began moving the ball around the corners through the running game. Hightower calls the defensive plays and has become such an important cog in the Pats defense aside from Jamie Collins and Malcolm Butler. Regardless of the officiating, Gronk’s injury or Belichick’s bad coaching decisions (see Chris Harper fielding punt, clock mismanagement), if Hightower stays in the game, the Pats win.
The loss is one thing, but the worst consequence is giving rookie Brock Osweiler confidence that he can deliver in the clutch. If the Pats and Broncos do meet in the AFC championship game, I would still rather see Peyton Manning behind center.
Congrats to the Philadelphia 76’ers for winning their first game and for the Lakers for successfully continuing their tanking effort in consecutive seasons.