Offseason editions of "Dead Red" will be infrequent, but usually come out when big news in Red Sox Nation occurs. Today is one of those days.
Last offseason, the Red Sox front office lost Jason Bay to free agency largely due to phantom health concerns. This year's free agency period is still young but today, according to a few media outlets, they lost free agent Victor Martinez to the Detroit Tigers. Needless to say, this is a major loss for Boston.
I was hoping this was not going to happen but saw it coming a long time ago, which is why I felt the Sox needed to get a longterm deal done with him prior to the start of last season. Still, I didn't expect the team with the second-highest payroll in baseball ($170 million payroll in 2010) to get outbid by any team (not named the New York Yankees) for V-Mart, let alone an average club like the Tigers.
This is a Red Sox team that is, after all, overpaying Daisuke Matsuzaka as well as the best DH in the game, David Ortiz, the latter by about $6 million. If you have to overpay for V-Mart, so what? Dice-K and Ortiz likely won't be around a few years into a new V-Mart contract anyway. And, owner John W. Henry just bought an international soccer team (Liverpool F.C.).
Therefore, money should not be the issue here, but that and apparently longevity was, since Detroit reportedly offered V-Mart $50 million over four years, while the Red Sox gave him a choice of $36 million over three years, or $42 million over four years. If these figures are true, Epstein has some explaining to do, as this makes the Sox organization look cheap.
He was willing to overrate J.D. ("DL") Drew and give him $70 million over five years ($15 million per year) at the age of 31. Yet V-Mart, at this same age and with much more durability (despite his thumb injury in 2010 that kept him out of 22 games), flexibility on the field and leadership skills, gets no more than three or four years? This doesn't make any sense.
V-Mart, besides being one of the few premier offensive-hitting catchers in the game who can also handle pitching staffs well, was the only catcher to bat .300 while hitting 20 homers in the majors in 2010. He is a lifetime .300 hitter as well as a heart of the lineup hitter who can play first base and be a leader in the clubhouse. His only liability is in throwing out runners.