By Mike Steffanos
As you may have heard by now, although nothing is official yet, there is a persistent rumor that the Red Sox have outbid all other teams by a substantial margin for Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka. In his InSider blog on ESPN.com ($ required), Buster Olney is citing those ubiquitous unnamed major league officials that the Sox won with what Olney described as a "staggering bid", rumored to be in the $38 - $45 million range.
The rumors don't stop there, unfortunately. After trying to explain why the Red Sox would pay so much more than anyone else for Matsuzaka, Olney went to the "no rumor is complete without some cockeyed Mets angle" well for this pearl:
Some baseball executives privately speculated on this kind of scenario Friday:
Say the Mets bid something in the range of $28 million for Matsuzaka, in their pursuit of a power pitcher. The Red Sox could ask the Mets for reliever Aaron Heilman and a prospect -- maybe Lastings Milledge, maybe a pitcher like Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber, maybe a lesser player -- in return for Matsuzaka. And the Red Sox could also ask the Mets to forward something close to the posting fee they bid.
The Mets might say no; they might say yes. They need a power pitcher. For Heilman, a prospect and at least a large portion of Boston's posting fee, they could have Matsuzaka.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, could pay the difference in the posting fee and get someone like Heilman and more prospects in return. In the end, they would effectively be purchasing talent from other organizations, and at the same time, keep Matsuka away from the Yankees, at a time when he would be a perfect puzzle piece for the rival Bronx Bombers.
Is is just me, or is anyone else getting sick of this type of nonsense? For this scenario to play out, the Mets have to be willing to pay most of Boston's posting fee, which is obviously much higher than they were willing to go, pay Boras' exorbitant salary demands, and give up top prospects in the bargain. Where is the logic in taking a gamble on an unproven pitcher and giving up a ton of money and young talent? Even Olney doesn't seem to buy his own scenario with the waffling the "Mets might say no; they might say yes" language.
I understand that rumors are rumors, but this type of spurious nonsense is beyond silly. If Omar Minaya made this kind of deal, I would hope that someone who loves him would get him into substance abuse rehab as soon as possible. Common sense tells us that what makes a gamble on a pitcher who has no track record against major league ballplayers at all worthwhile is that you are only gambling with money. You're not giving up any talent or draft picks in return. Your cheap young talent can offset the monetary investment in one player by allowing you to save money elsewhere. But no -- now the Mets would be willing to give up much more money than they were willing to originally bid, plus a high multi-year salary, plus some of their young talent, all because they "need a power pitcher". Of course, if the Red Sox fail to sign Matsuzaka the Mets could actually try to pick him up next year for only whatever money it takes to sign him. How absolutely nonsensical this all is. The sad thing is that some of those rumor sites will start printing this idiotic scenario as if it is fact, and this absolutely spurious nonsense will take on a life of its own.
I'm honestly tired of guys like Olney who keep injecting the Mets into these wild rumors that don't make any sense at all for the team. This has all of the authenticity of those crazy trade ideas WFAN callers conjure up. This would be a terrific deal for the Red Sox, but from the Mets point of view this is so weak that it shouldn't merit 30 seconds of consideration. Maybe something like this could have happened under Steve Phillips, but I have confidence that we have better management than that now. Moreover, I seriously question whether Buster Olney himself really believes what he wrote here. If he does, he's the one that needs to go into substance abuse rehab.
As you most likely already know, the Mets and Citigroup have come to term on naming rights for the new park. It was a foregone conclusion that the Mets were going to do this, and to my mind it could have been much worse. CitiField has a nice ring to it. If you want to get worked up because the stadium wasn't named after Bob Murphy or some old Brooklyn Dodger, please feel free. I'm fine with it. As fans, we should come up with our own nickname for the park and go with that, anyway.
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