Red Sox

McAdam: Teixeira’s retirement recalls what might have been with Red Sox


McAdam: Teixeira’s retirement recalls what might have been with Red Sox

SEATTLE -- The news that Mark Teixeira will announce his retirement at an afternoon press conference is sure to prompt revisiting his decision -- some eight years ago now -- to choose signing with the Yankees rather than the Red Sox.

Some context: Teixeira was just entering his prime at 28. He was the kind of run-producing hitter who could anchor the middle of a lineup for a long time.
The Red Sox at the time still had both David Ortiz, but the club has dealt Manny Ramirez at the trade deadline months earlier, and Teixeira appeared to be the perfect replacement. Here was a switch-hitting, slick-fielding accountable player with no history of the kind of selfish behavior which had forced the Sox to ship Ramirez out of town.
But though they had beaten the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and ended their championship drought later that same fall, and again three years later, the Red Sox were still no match for the Yanks at the bargaining table.
Just as they had lost out on Alex Rodriguez four years earlier, so did the Sox also finish second on Teixeira, who agreed to an eight-year, $180 million deal.
And they didn't just fail to sign the player - they failed in especially ugly fashion. Later, there were reports of a particularly awkward visit to Teixeria's home (at the time) in Texas, where then-team president Larry Lucchino accused agent Scott Boras of misrepresenting the Red Sox' latest offer, enraging Teixeria.
(Historical footnote: this was, incredibly, the second time the  Red Sox had succeeded in insulting Teixeira in his own home. Ten years earlier, when the Sox originally drafted Teixeira out of  high school, Boston scouting director Wayne Britton, in a bizarre bid for leverage, had belittled his abilities and his family's signing demands).
On paper, the signing contributed to the balance of power being tipped back in the Yanks' favor. At the time, the Sox had won two of the previous four World Series and had just come within two runs of winning another pennant months earlier.
But it also meant more than that: it was yet another reminder of the Yankees' superiority when it came to economics. For all the success the Red Sox had enjoyed on the field -- some at the Yankees' expense --  Teixeira's decision was a cruel reminder of who held the power in the division. If the Yankees wanted something -- or someone -- the Red Sox were powerless to stop them.
Indeed, Teixeira was far from the only pickup in the Yanks' manic off-season spending spree. Intent on re-asserting their will on rivals, they also inked CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett that winter.
The fallout was swift. The Red Sox, enraged with how the negotiations played out, initially swore that they would not sign another of Boras's clients. Privately, Theo Epstein fumed that the Sox were getting out of the free agent business altogether, focusing instead on player development.
Meanwhile, the disappointment over losing Teixeira only worsened.
After an initially sluggish start -- in early 2009, when the Sox steamrolled the Yanks at a series at Fenway, Boston principal owner John Henry playfully chided on Twitter: "Curse of Mark Teixeira?''
Eventually, the Yankees and Teixeira settled in, and his first season brought a championship back to the Bronx for the first time since 2000.
Moreover, Teixeira enjoyed a spectacular season, leading the A.L. in homers, RBI and total bases while winning his third Gold Glove.
In fact for his first three seasons with the Yankees, Teixeira averaged 37 homers and 111 RBI, appearing to justify the huge outlay.
But as so often happens with these long-term deals, the production soon dipped and the injuries mounted. After his third season with New York, Teixeira only once again hit as many as 30 homers and never again knocked in as many runs.
As his yearly salary climbed on a back-loaded deal, his numbers dropped. By his fourth year, he missed nearly a quarter of the team's games and in the fifth, he was on the field for just 15 games.
In 2015, he was out for almost a third of the schedule and though he posted a .906 OPS and flashed power with 31 homers, he hit just .255.
This season, his worst in the big leagues, he sports a .198 average and just a .627 OPS.
It's worth noting, in light of Teixeira's pending retirement announcement, that much of what was vowed by the Sox never materialized.
The club has regularly dealt with Boras. Indeed, arguably two of their young core - Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. -- are represented by Boras. Nor did they keep their promise to completely eschew the free agent market, signing Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and David Price to mega-deals.
From the Yankees perspective, Teixeira's signing bought them just one more ring, and perhaps the sobering reminder -- experienced by the Red Sox, too, countless times -- that, after the exhilarating rush of beating out a rival for a star player, free agency is often an expensive and, ultimately, inefficient way to conduct baseball business.

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.