Friday, January 16, 2009

The Youk Contract and Some Predictions

I am a big boy and I'll admit it. I was wrong about Youk. I was convinced he was going to spurn the Sox for free agency and go after a big money offer on the open market after the Sox lowballed yet another one of their own players with a below market contract.

What should be said here is that both sides gave a bit more than they have seemed willing to in the past. For the Sox, they offered one of their own an average annual salary of about $10M. That is really good for them and an AAS of $1M more per year than what they paid Josh Beckett when extending him. If you ask me, it is a step in the right direction for the organization. Don't lowball, homegrown, proven players to the point of antagonization. Instead, meet them halfway with some good cash and chances are they will stick around most of the time.

And that is where Youk comes into play too. He probably could have continued playing out his one year, arbitration eligible contracts until he got to free agency. At that point he probably could have gotten a pretty sweet deal. Instead though, he saw a chance to guarantee himself at least $41M and maybe $53M (if the fifth year club option is picked up) in a winter where many very good players had to scrounge or are still scrounging for one year deals and decided that $41M is $41M. Probably a good decision for both him and the team.

So what's next for them? Well, I think you'll see them move on to their next three logical targets, Jason Bay, Jon Lester, and Jonathan Papelbon (in that order).

If I had to guess on contracts that those three guys will get offered/sign if they are to say with the Sox, I'd say this:

Bay - 3 years $36M with a $14M club option for a 4th year
Lester - 4 years $35M with two $10M club option years
Papelbon - 3 years $20M with two $8M club option years

And now, because I have not done so in a while, some fearless predictions:

1) The Sox will swing a blockbuster trade before spring training that will bring them some sort of corner infielder, maybe a shortstop, or maybe even a centerfielder. Catcher will be a musical chairs position for them next year with Josh Bard receiving the bulk of the time.

2) Chad Finn of TATB on got me on this kick, but the Celtics need to figure out some way to bring in Joe Smith. The guy is the perfect match for them and they will make it happen.

3) The Stephon Marbury Era in Boston will go drastically smoother than the Sebastian Telfair Era. Weird that if it happens the cousins would have played for two of the same franchises with the T-Wolves being the other.

4) The Patriots will once again not draft a skill position player. This will initially be met with rolls of the eyes as they pass on the hot RB flavor of the draft. By next year, everybody will be heralding the Pats draft class even if drafting lineman, safeties, DBs, and tight ends aren't the most exciting picks in the world. Of course having potentially five first day picks will help.

5) The Mathew Stafford/Mark Sanchez QB question around the draft will be the most hotly debated "who you got" since Manning/Leaf. While it is virtually impossible for it to be that lopsided again, it will be as lopsided as the big QB debate before then, which directly effected us here. That's right, Mathew Stafford is going to be Drew Bledsoe and Sanchez will be Rick Mirer. Call me crazy, but if the Pats took Mirer there instead of Bledsoe, I bet they are still in that Bengals/Cardinals rut which they were perpetually stuck in pre Kraft/Parcells/Bledsoe.

6) In 2010 the Patriots will draft Tim Tebow. I know there is already a lot of yammering about this, but to me it makes just too much sense to ignore. They will break him in as a short yardage back/QB (exactly as he was used in his first year at Florida) and as time progresses they will slowly groom him as (hopefully) Tom Brady's predecessor. I'm not totally sold on him as a pro quarterback but if the Pats could take Matt Cassell and make him Pro Bowl quality, I am not sure what would be stopping them with a guy like Tebow.

7) Josh Beckett will win the AL Cy Young. Mark it down. It always seems like when great pitchers have years where they miss time here and there for lots of minor, nagging injuries it does them well in the long run and they come back the next season refreshed. So watch out for Beckett. 20 wins, 220 Ks, and an ERA around 3 are what I see for him.

8) BJ Upton will win the AL MVP. Overreaction to his performance in the playoffs? Not really. If the guy puts up a .300/.400/25/110/120/40 line on a playoff contending team, are you going to tell me he does not deserve it. (That's avg/obp/hr/rbi/rs/sb if you are wondering)

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