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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

CAN A CLUB HAVE TOO MANY SLUGGERS?

The final two significant transactions from last winter was the trade that sent Bronson Arroyo to Cincy for WMD, I mean, WMP - Wily Mo Pena, and the four-year contract extension of David Ortiz. As regular readers know, I am huge fans of both players.

Pena has the potential to become the lineup anchor in the years to come. His development over the year at the plate has been encouraging. WMP has occasionally laid off the slider, which is a key to him becoming a middle of the lineup hitter. My initial assessment of the trade is still valid.

Wily Mo Pena is all about what he could be in the future. Everyone has drooled over his classic five-tool ability, but his plate discipline is horrible and he has yet to translate his raw ability into production. Hopefully, the defense will come, but it is all about Pena’s bat.

''Our farm system is really starting to come around, but we don't have a lot of power. He just turned 24 last month, and he has as much power as anyone in the big leagues."

As Theo stated, Pena is here for his power and the systems lack thereof.

It is clear that WMP was primarily brought here for what can do beyond 2006. It appears that Pena’s acquisition fits nicely into the Sox long-term plan.

As for the man who NESN would like to have their entire winter programming revolving around, Big Papi. (Bill Simmons thinks a Saturday morning cartoon is coming, but I feel Cooking with Ortiz and Sunday Salsa Dancing are only a month or so away.) I’ve been a big fan of Big Papi since his acquisition, and the start of this blog, when I gave him the nickname Mo Light. Ortiz has so surpassed the Fox Lady loving, slightly overweight, slugging first baseman, Mo Vaughn.

Even though David Ortiz (and Curt Schilling) hold a special place in my heart and his 50+ bombs this season demonstrate that he is showing no signs of slowing down, I am still not in favor of his contract extension.

Even if the Sox projection of Ortiz has him earning $50M over 2007-2010, they made a mistake because the club had all of the leverage with the 2007 option. The Sox did not need to pay market price for Ortiz. The 2008 market for Ortiz’s services is unlikely to be greater than $12.5M, even with each club’s greater revenue streams from T.V., mlb.com, and the Nationals sale. Right now only the O’s, and maybe Detroit and Seattle would have a spot and the budget for a 32 year-old $12.5M D.H. The Sox should have gotten more of a discount than no buyout in 2011. They have taken on all of the risk and it was not necessary.

Beyond the financial implications of Big Papi’s contract, the collective commitments to corner outfield/first baseman/DH types is alarming. It is likely the primary reason for the club’s poor run prevention in 2006 and one of the biggest threats to Boston October baseball in the future.

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