Friday, April 27, 2007

Geico Ads, Joel Zumaya, Arms, Nations, and Empires

A friend of mine was in Boston this week, and brought me back a Red Sox yearbook. As I looked at the smiling faces of Big Papi, Tek, and Dice-K on cover, a few thoughts entered my mind:

Do the Red Sox players and staff go around and sign each others year books on the last day of the season? And does it tick them off that their yearbooks are full of ads?

More importantly, what exact moment did the Red Sox replace the Yankees as the 'Evil Empire'? Yep, it's official, the Red Sox, once loveable losers, are just Yankee wanabees at this point, throwing money helter skelter at unproven or bad character players, while desperately hoping that Jonathan Papelbon becomes Mariano Rivera. It's really sad in a way, but I almost wish the Sox hadn't won that damn Series. It was soooo much fun reliving the horrors of past seasons over a couple of beers. Those horrors are all gone now, replaced with an even worse reality; instead of chasing the Yankees, they've become the Yankees. I still love Papi, I just wish he was wearing a different uniform. I just don't like the Red Sox any more.

On to a new topic. The issue of spending on relief pitchers has been debated in this space several time, so it is with a great deal of glee that I review the first month of the season and ask this question. Which makes a caveman angrier, a Geico ad, or the performance of their ace (and well paid) relief pitcher, Joel Zumaya. Yes, it might be to early to say 'I told you so', but........ I told you so.

While I spent 1 million or less on guys like Okajima, Spiers, Capps, and Meredith (and of course a few vulture moves), Zumaya has pitched like, well, a hundred other relief pitchers. Unfortunately, he isn't PAID like those hundred other relief pitchers, so that ain't so good. Since the week prior to the start of the season, the following closers are injured or out of job: B.J. Ryan, Octavio Dotel, Eric Gagne, Jorge Julio, Brad Lidge, Dustin Hermanson, Joel Pinerio (or whoever was supposed to be Bostons closer), Seth McClung. Middle relief is again totally unpredictable, with the top scorers from last year Linebrink, Shields, and Zumaya all down significantly from last years totals, while Matt Capps and Derrick Turnbow have unexpectedly led their owners to great totals at bargain prices.

So, again, with all due respect to my fellow owners, I was not 'so wrong it's disgusting'. In fact, once again, these observations continue to point to the conclusion that overpaying for relievers simply does not make sense when those dollars can be allocated to more predictable positions.

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