The only thing better than watching the games is playing general manager.
And this is the season to pick and/or pay the players.
Here are three contractual situations in the news, as we speak, with some definition on where it will probably (or should) end up:
Be creative and pay Ortiz
There is a difference between this contract squabble and the six others David Ortiz has participated in since the first World Series victory in 2004. Way different.
What he did this past October was extra special. It was World Series No. 3, which puts him on the same pedestal with Larry Bird and Tom Brady, and it all started and ended with Ortiz.
He hit .688 in the World Series. If you want to get really technical, his grand slam in eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS vs. the Tigers (down 5-1) saved the Sox from going down 2-0 in the ALCS and perhaps never earning a WS berth.
Ortiz has cache right now. And quite frankly, he deserves it.
What would Bill Belichick do? I’m guessing if Brady was coming off a championship, he wouldn’t tick off Brady. He would go out of his way to take care of his meal ticket.
Ortiz wants an extension? Then give him one. Make it a little interesting.
Maybe give him two years at $33 million, which is a raise over his two-year, $26 million which improved to $30 million because he stayed off the disabled list. For that second year, have a $6 million buyout.
That makes cutting him a difficult decision. If he officially is finished after the 2015 season, then he gets a $6 million “kiss,” which he deserves.
We can debate why Ortiz wants a new deal at age 38 — recently divorced, his last contract, etc. — but it’s a waste of time. He delivered the goods a third time, which is a charm, and a little extra pocket cash is worth the price.
Lester deservespot ‘o gold
While I was surprised by Ortiz’s resurgence in 2013, I was more surprised by Lester’s ascent to the role of World Series “Ace” last October.
I honestly didn’t think he had it in him. My reasoning was Josh Beckett ruined him, attitude-wise.
Lester was talented and had one of the better arms in baseball, particularly among left-handers, but he was more noted for his unhappy, surly and unrepentant ways. Just like the other talented guy who basically deserves a lion’s share of the credit for the 2007 World Series victory, Josh Beckett.
But it took more than a year and the presence of John Farrell in the Red Sox clubhouse to find the guy who Jason Vartitek predicted that “is going to be a great one some day, I guarantee it.”
Well, Lester was great for good chunks of 2013 and great in the postseason, posting a 4-1 record and allowing only six runs in 34-plus innings, including going 2-0 in the World Series while allowing only one run over his two starts.
While I’m not big into overpaying for postseason performances, which are sometimes fluky, Lester is 100-56 over his career as a starter and has proved he can grind with the best of them.
More importantly, he can grind in Boston, which is even harder. I feel he has become the pitcher Varitek and others thought he’d be and is worth the ... gulp! ... $20 million per season.
I’m guessing the Red Sox will have to go at least six years, which is not current club policy, but it is worth breaking here. He has had 31-plus starts in each of his last six seasons, averaging about 206 innings per.
He is an ace. And quite frankly, it was nice to finally see him smile. This might be Farrell’s best work as manager: getting the “ace” out of Lester.
Say goodbyeto Edelman
In a perfect world, Julian Edelman might have been a New England Patriot the next three or four years.
The Patriots, really Bill Belichick, would find a way to keep the MVP of the 2013 season after his 104 receptions, fourth most in the NFL. He not only was the best slot receiver on the team, but he also was (and still is) one of the best punt returners ... ever at 12.3 yards per return.
Under normal circumstances, Belichick might actually release Danny Amendola, who signed a five-year, $31 million contract ($10 million guaranteed) last offseason, and take the more productive player.
But the Wes Welker Factor appears to be hanging around. Amendola was Welker’s replacement, not Edelman. And Amendola was paid like Welker’s replacement.
The issue here is Belichick will not pay the Edelman what he deserves, which is at least the same contract Amendola got, and keep Amendola. It just doesn’t make sense to pay the slot receiver position $10 million per year.
Amendola’s problems in 2013 probably had more to do with his injuries. Heck, you could give Amendola credit for fighting to stay on the field, which has been a career-long problem for him.
Releasing Amendola, who could be a 100-catch guy like Edelman was this past season, would be accepting defeat. That’s not happening.
The money some people would love to go to Edelman will instead go to a speedy wide out, be it semi-expensive Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) or Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh), or a cheapie like Santonio Holmes (Jets), who is expected to be released very soon.
Say goodbye to Edelman and wish him well. After playing for the minimum in 2013, he will deservedly get his millions elsewhere.
Email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.