Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Baseball and Scott Boras, Who Runs the Show? by Ed Stern

Marty: In anticipation of your upcoming Thursday program here are a few thoughts, for whatever they may be worth, respecting what has now become the traditional off-season. Scott Boras may have more impact on the success or failure of teams in the coming season than anyone else.

There appear to be five teams which have made significant moves, namely, the Yankees, Boston, Seattle, the Mets and the Giants. Among these teams, the Yankees and the Mets may be contemplating further additions. I am assuming that the Yankees already have Johnson signed. The Yankees, with the addition of Pavano, Wright and now Johnson, have bought a new rotation. Boston, though losing Martinez and Cabrera, have added Renteria and Clement. Renteria is a better player than Cabrera. Seattle has added Sexson and Beltre, major moves. The Mets have added Martinez and apparently are serious about Beltran.

Click below for more of Ed’s analysis.

This brings us to the Giants, who have made intriguing moves. They have signed Vizquel to a $12.25 million dollar, three year deal; signed Benitez to a $21.5 million dollar, three year contract; signed Matheny to a 10.5 million dollar, three year contract and, finally, have signed Alou to a $13.25 million dollar, two year contract. No one can rightfully accuse the Giants of an unwillingness to pay impressive dollars this year in their effort to field an attractive team.

The team had positions which needed obvious upgrading. They have succeeded in improving the club significantly. Even with some problems which may arise in right field, the defense has unquestionably been strengthened, with the addition of Vizquel and Methany. In addition, Alou, if last year is a reliable indicator, will provide a strong bat behind Bonds. The team lost out in the quest for a playoff spot because of their failure to have a closer who could shut a team down in the ninth inning. Benitez should be capable of doing that.

As we have repeatedly said, and it didn’t take an expert to say it, this is an old ball club. Their additions have not made them any younger. But these are players who have been highly productive in the past. If they remain healthy, the Giants may have improved their outlook for the coming season to a greater extent than any of the other teams with, always, the possible exception of the profligate Yankees. One cannot overestimate the value of Johnson. a Hall of Fame pitcher who may have as many remaining years as Ryan and, in those years, may perform better than Nolan.

In looking at what has transpired to date in this off-season it is tempting to examine some of the free agency signings of reputedly impact players. One can raise an eyebrow or two at the vast amounts of money which clubs have already agreed to pay or are contemplating paying for the few remaining unsigned, so-called impact players.

Coming immediately to mind is the Boras public demand for a 200 million dollar contract over a ten year period for the Beltran acquisition. There is word out of New York this morning that the Yankees, now that they are about to sign Johnson, may no longer be in the hunt for Beltran. Some commentators have pointed to the Yankee payroll, which, with Johnson aboard, will be in excess of 200 million. However, no one ever accused Steinbrenner of an unwillingness to throw money around if he thought it would bring a championship to New York.

Possibly, the other reason for the Yankees reluctance, assuming they are reluctant, is that Beltran simply isn’t worth the kind of money Boras is talking about. Boras has been marketing Beltran in the hope that people will consider only the past twelve days in October, twelve days in which Beltran was the dominant player among all of those appearing in those playoff games. Boras would like interested parties to look past the .258 batting average during the regular season. Unquestionably, Beltran is a talented player. He is strong defensively and runs well. It is doubtful that he is worth anything close to Boras’ evaluation. Nothing that he has done in the past, once one gets beyond the twelve days last October, justifies what Boras will ultimately get for Beltran.

This, then, may leave the field open for the Mets. This may be unfortunate for a club which has a history of making disastrous free agent signings. They are paying Martinez $53 million dollars over four years. This for a pitcher who has trouble getting into the seventh inning. He may turn into a seven or eight inning pitcher but I don’t know that they should count on it.

There are others whose salaries can be questioned. By way of example, one can reasonably question Beltre’s worth. He had a great year last year. It is the only outstanding year he has had in the past five or six years. He may live up to last year’s performance. He may play back to the earlier years.

There are, of course, lesser lights who have been signed and whose signings raise questions. LA signed Ledee to a two year contract for $2.5 million dollars. This is a player dumped by every team he has ever played for, including the Giants. He couldn’t buy a hit once he moved over from the Phillies. Far more interesting, however, is to look at the players teams are counting on to make them contenders for the main prize. There are a handful of them, in addition to those few named here, and some two or three still unsigned.

Once the season begins all of us will be looking at the records of the handful of players who, by themselves, are expected by those paying their salaries, to bring their teams to desired heights. Some will succeed. Some will fall by the wayside. It’s a tough game.

If one is brave enough to make an early prediction, to go out on the proverbial limb, without fear of having it cut off beneath one, this winter’s moves will leave Randy Johnson facing Schmidt in the opening game of the World Series.

Ed Stern


1 marty { 01.05.05 at 1:51 pm }


With all the talk about the revamped Giants defense thanks to the acquisitions of Vizquel and Matheny, I’ve got concerns. The less than average Durham is nothing special. He’s in there for his bat (WHEN he’s in there!) Alfonzo is competent but doesn’t exactly bring back visions of Brooks Robinson (or even Bell or Mueller). Baring a deal including Alfonzo, where/when Feliz will play is still up in the air. And, with Grissom back in center, Bonds a year older and slower in left, and the newly acquired Alou in right, the Giants are certainly no better in the outfield defensively than last season.

So, while their defense has improved a bit, it’s still nothing special.


2 Anonymous { 01.05.05 at 8:50 pm }

Bruce; You are absolutely correct about the outfield. Last year’s outfield, with Tucker and Mohr in right was better defensively. They are a good deal stronger in the infield with Vizquel and certainly at catcher with Methany. They need a late inning replacement in the outfield, perhaps Ellison, who is a very good defensive center fielder although he can’t hit a lick. They need to keep Tucker’s bat in the dugout for pinch hitting. A deal for Alfonzo, for a few reasons, would be great but it isn’t going to happen with his 8 million dollar salary.


3 Anonymous { 01.05.05 at 10:25 pm }

Ed, who do I contact to get the contract to supply
oxygen for these geezers?

Jerry F

4 Anonymous { 01.06.05 at 10:45 am }

Jerry; If they remain standing through 162 games, with or without infusions of oxygen, it will be miraculous. There is something fascinating about these oldtimers taking on the young ones. Go Geezers!


5 Dave { 01.06.05 at 2:43 pm }

I think you underrate Carlos Beltran. He actually batted .267 last year, but only .258 in the NL. You look around baseball, and there are maybe one or two true five-tool players. Vladimir Guerrero is definitely one of them, Alex Rodriguez is probably a close one. Carlos Beltran is probably just below that, and you can factor in Albert Pujols simply because he does everything else so well. All of these players received multi-year deals, all in the $10 million+ range. Maybe Beltran won’t receive his deal based only on performance, but because if he hits for higher average, he could be up there with Guerrero and A-Rod. That being said about potential, you also might look at Beltran’s rising OPS in each of the past three years. His slugging percentage is dramatically increasing as well. The only posibble hangup (probably from the Astros’ point of view) is that Beltran hit a paltry .233 at Minute Maid Park. You’d think there’d be a little bit more in terms of hitting there. But either way, Beltran finally got the chance to be in a postseason, and saying he excelled probably doesn’t do his performance justice. All I know is that this guy will earn his money one way or another. Even on an 0/5 night, his superior game of baseball is worth the investment.

6 Anonymous { 01.07.05 at 11:15 am }

Dave; It wasn’t my intention to deny that Beltran is a superior, talented performer. I was pointing out that he didn’t have the established credentials of a Guerrero or a Pujols or a Rodriguez. This was in the context of the outsized Boras demands. Beltran may prove he belongs in that group. It still remains to be done.


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