Once the number is confirmed with the official acceptance announcement tonight by Lions, it will be very interesting to hear commissioner Bud Selig's response to his friend John Henry's fiscal behavior in this matter. Imagine if this were the Yankees blowing open the market like this? (Sources say George Steinbrenner's bid for Matsuzaka was around $30 million and somehow even The Boss won't mind having lost this one considering what it would have cost him.)
In any case, Selig's salary police are in for a rough winter. Regardless of how Boras' negotiations with the Red Sox over Matsuzaka turn out, the first shot over the bow has been fired and starting with his other high-profile pitcher, Barry Zito, we can expect the dearth of quality starting pitching in baseball to create another wild spending spree. How quickly everyone will forget two years ago, when Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Eric Milton and Russ Ortiz all cashed in on the coattails on the $7 million per year contract the Mets gave Kris Benson - and all proceeded to crap out.
Murray Chass thinks that this whole business says a lot about George Steinbrenner's diminishing role as The Boss in the Bronx:
In the past, Steinbrenner would not have passed up an opportunity to comment caustically on what the Red Sox bid, especially with the evil empire label still in his mind. Those who have heard many of his comments can only shake our heads in sorrow and accept that an era has passed.
In Steinbrenner's place, can we throw Lucchino's comment back at him? Is there anything evil about what the Red Sox have done? Mind boggling perhaps, but not evil. Stunning perhaps, but not evil. Incredulous maybe, but not evil. Obscene, as an executive of another club said, but not evil.
What the Red Sox have done is forfeit their right to complain ever again about economic moves the Yankees make.
But the tough part comes now. It begins in earnest tonight with the official announcement that the Red Sox have the winning bid to negotiate exclusively with Daisuke Matsuzaka. In addition, the Yanks strongly believe Boston is pushing hard to sign J.D. Drew to bat behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
Thus, the Yanks could be witnessing their most bitter rival exerting its financial might with a quick 1-2, $100 million-plus statement. The Yanks' bid on Matsuzaka was considerably lower and, privately, they feel Boston's total outlay for the righty will be too high and could keep it from addressing other shortcomings. And - like many in the industry - the Yanks wonder if Drew, whose passion is often questioned, has the makeup for The Rivalry. Yankee GM Brian Cashman would only say, "My job is to try to attack our areas of need, period, and not worry about what is going on around us."
Finally, on a minor note, Joe Girardi will return to the YES Broadcast booth next year.