Sports Monday

1219687170Amalie Benjamin had an interesting piece in the Globe on Friday reporting that the Red Sox had gone over the $10 million mark in signing bonuses for their 2008 draft class. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Red Sox, along with a few other teams, have long been shelling out more for young talent than what Major League Baseball recommends.

Before anyone cries “Big Market Bully,” here’s the interesting twist: The small-market Kansas City Royals also reportedly passed the $10 million mark, with $6 million of that reportedly going to third overall pick Eric Hosmer.

MLB’s salary slotting system is not a mandate. It is essentially a request from the Commissioner’s office to keep signing bonuses for draft choices from heading into the stratosphere. Unlike the NBA which has strict slotting rules for its draft, MLB goes by the “Pretty please, don’t do it,” system.

As Royals GM Dayton Moore has said, “There is no … ‘system. It’s a misnomer. There are ‘recommendations.'”

The Tigers, to cite one example, have worked the lower half of the first round to snare premium talents like Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, and Rick Porcello who were available only because their asking price was prohibitive. The Red Sox have gone about it in a slightly-different way, drafting talented high school kids in the later rounds who either have high price tags, solid college options, or both.

Among the Sox prospects who signed for over-slot money are: Lars Anderson (a very intriguing kid), Ryan Kalish, Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Westmoreland, a fifth round pick in 2008 who signed for $2 million. Anderson and Kalish are two of the more highly-regarded players in the Red Sox system, while Middlebrooks and Westmoreland are just getting started.

Of course, not all above-slot prospects pan out: Michael Rozier was selected in the 12th round in 2004, and signed for $1.575 million, turning down a chance to play quarterback for North Carolina. But Rozier has struggled in his five years in the Sox system.

Even if the successful percentage rate is less than 50 percent, it’s still an effective strategy. Let’s say Anderson reaches his ceiling and becomes an All-Star first baseman. The going rate for premium players at his position is between $10 and $15 million per year, or the low end of what the team invested in its entire 2008 draft class.

Again, that’s smart business. The fact that the down-trodden Royals have caught on is proof of its effectiveness.

Three questions for the Globe’s Patriots beat writer, Chris Gasper.

1. Is the preseason overrated?

Gasper: The preseason is overrated. Teams don’t gameplan. The games are often boring and not well-played as a result of that lack of game planning. A lot of the guys playing when the game is “on the line” would never be in during the second half of an actual NFL game. The thing is that in today’s NFL, you don’t need so many preseason games. I think Hines Ward of the Steelers said it last week that with all the spring camps and off-season stuff that is “voluntary” in name only, players don’t need a month of training camp and the preseason to be ready to go.

2. Is there a crisis at backup quarterback?

Gasper: think there is a crisis if the Patriots have to play their backup quarterback during the regular season. If Tom Brady goes down the whole tenor of the Patriots season changes. They go from Super Bowl contender to survival mode. I think that Matt Cassel has put way too much pressure on himself to perform this preseason and that he hasn’t been helped by a patchwork offensive line that is missing Matt Light at left tackle, Stephen Neal at right guard, and now is without both of Neal’s backups, Billy Yates and Russ Hochstein.

Rookie Kevin O’Connell and second-year signal-caller Matt Gutierrez have potential, but there is no Brady-like backup waiting in the wings behind Brady as he was behind Drew Bledsoe in 2001, so he better stay healthy.

3. What undrafted free agent or second-day draft pick has impressed you the most?

Gasper: I think the under-the-radar rookie that has been most impressive is outside linebacker Vince Redd. This guy looks like he could stick. He has the ideal build for a 3-4 outside linebacker at 6-6, 260-pounds, and he played in a similar 3-4 defense for former Patriots defensive coordinator Al Groh at the University of Virginia, before he was kicked off the team and finished his career at Liberty. He’s not your normal, long-shot, small-college kid. He was a big-time recruit who played big-time college football. I think he’ll contribute on special teams right away and could be a developmental prospect who turns into a starter down the road.

The Celtics made a great under-the-radar pickup Friday when they signed Darius Miles to a non-guaranteed contract. They key words being “non-guaranteed.” Miles is facing a 10-game suspension for violating the NBA’s Anti-Drug program, according to the Oregonian.

(Media note: It was interesting that the Oregonian got the scoop, in that the Portland Trail Blazers, Miles’ last place of employment, stand to benefit greatly in terms of their salary cap situation if Miles was not signed by another team. The NBA drug program, incidentally, is supposed to be confidential.)

Miles has missed the last two seasons, and half of another after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee, but when last seen healthy he was a 6-foot-9 jumping jack with speed. He’s not much of a long-range shooter, but if—and it is a big if—he is committed to playing the Celtics brand of defense, he could replace some of what James Posey took with him to New Orleans—that is the ability to guard multiple positions.

If he doesn’t, the worst that can be said is the Celtics took a free chance on talent.

Completely useless IMDB note: Miles can give Ray Allen a run for his money in the acting department. He not only had a cameo in Van Wilder, he also played opposite Scarlett Johansson (!) in The Perfect Score. Take that, Jesus Shuttlesworth.

Closing thought: Because no detail ever escapes the eye of David Scott, we found out last week that’s web redesign company is called Intertech, which is the same name of the company in Office Space. Let’s hope Bill Lumbergh has done away with TPS reports, lest Rob Bradford and company go gangster on a defenseless copy machine.


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