Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Business Decision

Here's something that I wrote a couple of years ago for Barry Roos and the good folks over at

I recall reading long ago in the Boston Globe, 'there is nothing cheaper than free advice, and there is nothing easier than spending someone else's money.' I'm not sure that Pedro Martinez was reading the paper that day.

Pedro Martinez has been one of the most accomplished pitchers in Major League Baseball history. He has won three Cy Young awards, including having won one in each league. He has won twenty games twice, led the league in E.R.A. on 5 occasions, allowed the fewest hits per nine innings five times, and dominated the league in strikeouts on three occasions. He has also been handsomely paid for his labors, earning over 15 million dollars last season and over 17 million this year. His arrival launched the Red Sox into perennial bridesmaid status.

Pedro moved on with much fanfare and didn't leave a dollar on the table. Having been raised in abject poverty, and done much for his community with his wealth, Pedro had plenty of reasons to make his choice. The Red Sox also had reasons for their decision, including Martinez' gradual decrease in dominance and the clear distinction between the Peak Pedro and the Off Peak Pedro. That isn't to say that the aging Pedro isn't a valuable pitcher, just that he may not be worth as much to the Red Sox as to the Mets at this point in the evolution of the franchises.

Former Sox pitchers (Arroyo 1, Martinez 7, and Lowe 12) rank high in the NL ERA race. This certainly reflects their collective ability, but also the relative disparity in lineup strength in the National League. NL hurlers come in to face lineups packed with hitters from 1 to 9. The Red Sox for example have a .300 hitter (last year) in the eight hole (Coco Crisp) and even Alex Gonzalez has shown an offensive spark recently.

The Red Sox, even with one of the largest payrolls in MLB must decide where to allocate capital, who stays, who goes, and how to balance low-salaried younger players with peak performers at high salary, and sometimes aging stars with marquis names and equivalent pay. Every team will have overachieving bargains and underachieving drags on payroll. Sometimes they surprise you, with major contributions from Lowell and Gonzalez, bargain bustouts from Youkilis, Papelbon, and Lester, and disappointment from Clement. This shouldn't come as any surprise.

Round and about. Don't forget the ladies, who can play some pretty mean ball, too. The New England Riptide, playing softball in Lowell and residing online at are battling for a playoff spot in the National Pro Fast Pitch League. Your daughters and sons can check out some exciting athletes from the distaff side playing a national schedule, with athletes from all over the US.

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