November 25, 2006


Progress made in talks between Drew and Sox (Gordon Edes, November 25, 2006, Boston Globe)

One possible hurdle, according to a source with direct knowledge of the talks, is that no Sox player has been given a contract for longer than four years by the current ownership. Drew, who turned 31 Monday, is seeking a deal for more years, according to the source, and with Soriano signing for eight years and Matthews and Pierre getting five-year deals, he would appear to have the leverage.

His asking price, according to sources, is at least $14 million. That's $4 million a year more than the Sox offered last winter to Johnny Damon before he signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Yankees. Bobby Abreu, the right fielder the Sox passed on in July because of luxury-tax ramifications before he was dealt by the Phillies to the Yankees, is due $15 million in 2007, with the Yankees holding an option of $16 million for 2008.

Manny Ramírez, who is due $18 million next season ($4 million deferred), ranks as the Sox' highest-paid position player. David Ortiz, who this spring signed a four-year, $50 million deal, is next at an average salary of $12.5 million. The club holds an option year of $12.5 million in 2011; offering Drew option years could be one way Epstein may be able to circumvent Drew's desire for a deal longer than four years.

Statistically, Drew ranks among the game's best players. In the last three seasons, he has an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .946, which ranks 11th among players with at least 1,200 plate appearances, just ahead of Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees (.945). Only four outfielders had a higher OPS: Ramírez (1.014), Lance Berkman of the Astros (1.000), Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels (.961), and Edmonds of the Cardinals (.947).

Drew's on-base percentage of .415 over the last three seasons ranked sixth overall, and third among outfielders, trailing only Berkman (.428) and Abreu (.419).

Last season, Drew led the Dodgers with 100 RBIs, 89 walks, 34 doubles, and a .393 OBP, and tied Nomar Garciaparra for the team lead in home runs with 20, despite a 43-game span between June 2 and July 26 in which he failed to hit one. His best season in the majors came in 2004, with the Atlanta Braves, when he hit .305 (.436 OBP) with 31 home runs and 93 RBIs, and finished sixth in the National League MVP voting.

Defensively, he's considered an above-average outfielder who can play both right and center field.

"If you get him on the field, he's the best free agent outfielder of the bunch," said an executive with a team that signed one of this offseason's other prime targets.

The era of steroids seems to have made baseball executives forget an ancient truth--players, especially speedy white ones, decline rapidly in their mid/late 30s.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 25, 2006 10:05 AM

As injury prone as he is, he ain't worth the money.

Posted by: Bartman at November 25, 2006 10:51 AM

What is this weird racial garbage? Most MLB players, of whatever skin color, don't decline in their mid to late 30s...because most MLB careers are long since finished by then. The average major league career is something like four years.

A few players of various skin colors have played on into their late thirties successfully. Because this is so rare, people notice and start inventing "trends" to explain it. Sometimes the supposed trends get really weird, like white skin and speediness make you decline faster in your mid to late thirties.

Derbyshire's "Assertive Whiteness" (to use JPod's phrase) has almost spoiled NRO for me. I hope this site doesn't get spoiled by Assertive Non-Whiteness.

Anyway, Drew's health and production have actually improved lately. In two of the last three seasons, he managed over 140 games, which he had never done before. He also managed OPS numbers of 1.006, .931 and .891 - the last two at Dodger Stadium.

Drew just turned 31. He does have a bad injury history, and players after 30, regardless of skin pigmentation, are subject to sudden declines in performance. But the White Sox are nuts if they buy into some goofball theory that speedy white guys decline faster. Fortunately, they seem to have more sense than some bloggers. They signed Thome, who just completed a monster comeback season (1.014 OPS) at age 35.

But I guess he wasn't "speedy". Or some other part of this fruitcake theory.

Posted by: Casey Abell at November 25, 2006 9:20 PM

Oh, forgot another guy named Clemens. All he did last year was put up a 2.30 ERA at age 43.

He's not speedy, either. But he's a pretty good elderly white guy.

Posted by: Casey Abell at November 25, 2006 9:28 PM

Then there's Giambi, who put up a .971 OPS at age 35. And Mussina and Glavine and Rogers, who recorded ERA's of 3.51, 3.81 and 3.84 at ages 38, 40 and 41.

But these guys can't exist. Because some blogger who knows less about baseball than most Indonesians thinks there are "no good elderly white guys".

Posted by: Casey Abell at November 25, 2006 9:51 PM

Clemens saved his career with steroids. Ask Grimsley. Giambi admits it. Slop ball pitchers--especially lefties--can go until they're too old to walk from the dugout to the mound.

The typical guy historically is Dale Murphy or Bret Butler.

Posted by: oj at November 25, 2006 10:18 PM

Giambi and Clemens have been passing tests for the last two years. And putting up great numbers. And you don't know squat about Clemens' steroid use beyond the same idiot rumors you believed about CoCo Crisp (105 games, .702 OPS) being some kind of great player.

The "typical guy" - white, black, brown, yellow, or green - is finished by 35 or long before. Gee, Gary Sheffield did great this year, didn't he? Look, if you want to spoil your site with White-People-Suck junk...well, it's your site to spoil. Derbyshire's doing his best to ruin NRO with his White-People-Forever crud.

Posted by: Casey Abell at November 25, 2006 11:12 PM

This Casey didn't strike out.

Posted by: Gary at November 25, 2006 11:31 PM

Grimsley was getting Clemens HGH, now that they test for steroids.

Sheffield, like a lot of these guys, broke down once the juice was withdrawn.

But your point about them breaking down at 35 or before simply reiterates mine, which is just stolen from Bill James:

The key points are as follows:

# For a pitcher, there is virtually no relationship between outstanding performance as a rookie and eventually attaining star status.

# In trying to figure out how much a player will develop, probably the one most important factor to consider, other than the player’s ability, is his age.

# Most major league players reach the majors at age 22 or later. The great majority of major stars reach the majors at age 22 or earlier.

Furthermore, as a player ages. . .

# . . .his skills undergo certain predictable changes. All players lose speed as they age; thus, speed-related skills are young player’s skills.

# . . .power increases as a percentage of value, not in every case but in most. Thus, power is an old player’s skill.

# . . .he will tend in most cases to draw more walks. Thus, drawing walks is an old player’s skill.

# . . .his batting average will almost always decrease. Thus, hitting for average is a young player’s skill.

# . . .he tends to drive in more runs and score fewer. Thus, runs scored are a young player’s skill, and RBI are an old player’s skill.

As a result, “the further along in this progression the player is (regardless of age), the closer he is to the end of his career (or, conversely, the earlier he is in this progression, the longer he can be expected to play).”

Posted by: oj at November 25, 2006 11:44 PM

At least Orrin is backing off the racial angle, which was jarring to say the least and frankly disappointing on this blog. If I want racial nuttery, there's always NRO and our favorite Brit illegal. And anybody who believes Grimsley's mutterings will probably believe that Coco is good.

Anyway, I agree with all the race-neutral comments about players aging. By the way, there's a story that Orrin's beloved Red Sox may sign Drew. At least he'll probably put up a better OPS than Crisp.

Posted by: Casey Abell at November 26, 2006 1:12 PM

Not when they're both 36. Crisp will still be productive, drew won't.

The choice of the later years of Matthews v. Aaron, Santo v. Banks, Burks vs. Greenwell, McReynolds vs. Daryl, Van Slyke v. Bonds, Rocco Baldelli vs. Carl Crawford, etc. is a no-brainer. To pretend that race isn't at least a part of the equation of how players perform in their mid/late 30s is PC to the point of willful ignorance.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2006 8:15 PM