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Down The Line

August 03, 2008|Bill Shaikin

Still seeing red over the Sox

The e-mailbox overflowed the other day, when Nomar Garciaparra told us that "there's a lot of truth" to Manny Ramirez's allegations that the Red Sox "mistreated other great players when they didn't want them, to try to turn the fans against them."

The Boston fans -- dozens upon dozens of them -- essentially asked us the same question: If Garciaparra believes the Red Sox didn't want him and turned the fans against him, why don't you go ask him why he turned down a four-year, $60-million contract extension to stay in Boston?

So we did.

"I never turned that down," he said. "They did a good job spinning that I did."

The way Garciaparra tells the story, the Sox did indeed make that offer, before the 2004 season. As his agent negotiated with the team, he said, the Sox asked to defer some money "until I was 70 years old," lowered the offer to $48 million, told him they might acquire Alex Rodriguez to replace him and ultimately traded him to the Cubs at the July deadline.

"I was still negotiating with them, and then I heard I was traded," he said.

He said he loved the fans of Boston and had hoped to end his career there. However, he said, he now has this in common with Ramirez: He never wanted to leave, and the Sox will try to persuade fans he did.

"We never left," Garciaparra said. "They traded us. We didn't leave."

Dialing for dollars? Just say no

Not to say that Mark Teixeira is looking forward to a bidding war for his services in free agency this fall, but compare how he and Braves General Manager Frank Wren answered the same question last week.

After Atlanta traded Teixeira to the Angels, this was the question: How seriously had the Braves tried to sign him to a contract extension?

Teixeira: "It didn't get much further than one phone call."

Wren: "We offered a very aggressive multiyear contract that would have made him one of the highest-paid players in the game, and it was not accepted."

Spending to win, and not just today

For fans clamoring for their team to spend money, the Teixeira trade illustrates that buying a free agent is not the only way to spend money, and not necessarily the best or most cost-effective way to build depth in an organization.

The Angels would like to retain Teixeira, but they generally shy away from bidding wars. If he leaves after the season, the Angels' top minor league first basemen are Kendry Morales, signed as a Cuban defector for $4.5 million, and Mark Trumbo, an 18th-round draft pick signed for first-round money -- $1.425 million -- so he would forgo a scholarship to USC.

And, when the Braves demanded that a pitching prospect accompany Casey Kotchman in the trade, the Angels sent Stephen Marek, a 40th-round pick signed for $800,000.

If Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez leave as free agents, the Angels would get four premium draft picks as compensation, an enormous step toward rebuilding their minor league system. The Angels forfeited their top draft pick in three of the last four years, as compensation for signing Torii Hunter, Gary Matthews Jr. and Orlando Cabrera.

Mother Nature's product placement

In the wake of last week's 5.4-magnitude earthquake centered near Chino Hills, which minor league team is offering $5.40 tickets to Tuesday's game, with free admission to Chino Hills residents?

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, of course.

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