Now, that Bobby Jenks has signed a two year, $12 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, my first order of business at Spring Training, if I was a Boston beat reporter, would be to snap a picture of Jacoby Ellsbury and Jenks together and title it Jake And The Fatman, because, let’s face it, crime serials from the late eighties / early nineties can never be referenced too often in 2010.

The Jenks signing fortifies an already intimidating back end of the bullpen.  Even with last season’s falters, Jonathan Paplebon remains a 10+ K/9 guy.  His supposed control issues are actually just him coming back down to human levels after a 2008 season in which he posted a cyborg like 9.63 K/BB.  Adding Jenks also let Boston utilize right handed power arm Daniel Bard whenever they wish.  The 25 year old came into his own last season, becoming the Red Sox most effective pitcher out of the bullpen, pitching over 74 innings in relief.

Perhaps most importantly, the Red Sox now become the most expensive team in baseball, surpassing the New York Yankees payroll for next season.  The Yankees are far from done their offseason tuneup, but it appears as though the arms race that boosted contracts to obscene levels in the early part of this decade is back, at least for now.

Additional Signings

While the Red Sox shored up their bullpen with a big name signing and the Yankess continue to stew over the prospect of opening their purse strings for Rafael Soriano, the Tampa Bay Rays have signed veteran Joel Peralta at the bargain basement rate of $900,000.  Peralta was inexplicably non tendered by the Nationals after getting called up mid season and using his control to post some of the best numbers of any reliever in baseball.  This signing is exactly why baseball nerds love the Tampa Bay Rays.

After dropping serious fliff on free agent acquisitions Joaquin Benoit and Victor Martinez, it only makes sense that the Tigers would overpay Magglio Ordonez (one year for $10 million), who at least has been in the service of Detroit for the last six years.  Considering that the Tigers have already said that they plan on using Martinez primarily as the team’s DH, the team must somehow be overlooking the ankle he fractured last season and expecting him to play a corner outfield spot.  This signing is exactly why baseball nerds hate the Detroit Tigers.

The Minnesota Twins have signed Japanese batting title winner Tsuyoshi Nishioka, for whom they earlier won negotiating rights, to a three year contract believed to be in the neighbourhood of $10 million.  Considering that a rapidly aging Derek Jeter remains one of the best shortstops in the league despite his rapidly declining numbers, fresh blood at the most important infield position is always welcome.  We’ll reserve judgment though until after we’ve seen how his overseas success translates to the AL Central.

Find me Chien-Ming Wang’s agent because if he can get the broken pitcher a guaranteed $1 million, plus $5 million in incentives from the Washington Nationals, surely he can negotiate a better contract for me.

Trading Up

The Oakland A’s traded Minor Leaguers (Oh!) Henry Rodriguez and Corey Brown to the Nationals for Josh Willingham.  Aaron Gleeman brings up an interesting point in his brief analysis of the trade at HardballTalk: If the Nationals are so set on signing a free agent first baseman, why wouldn’t they consider Willingham, whose defense in the outfield is somewhere between Adam Lind’s and atrocious?

And The Rest

Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal is one of the least talked about excellent baseball writers working right now.  He attacks the Cliff Lee deal and explains how the signing went down.

Guess Who?  The first person to tell me who this barely related to baseball person is in the comments section wins my respect for the day and a Follow Friday mention on Twitter if they so desire.

Joe Posnanski writes about Bob Feller who sadly passed away recently.

The coolest baseball nerd I know (back handed compliment alert), Navin Vaswani of Sports & The City joins the FanGraphs podcast for a much needed breath of fresh air.  We knew him when he was still “eyebleaf.”

Beyond The Boxscore talks about BABIP.  Their ongoing Saber Ed features are a great way to learn about some of the more complicated new baseball metrics.

Oooooh!  MLB unveils the 2011 All-Star Game logo.  Try to contain yourself.

Baseball Analysts talk about the pace of pitchers.  I can’t wait to delve into A.J. Burnett’s timing.  I’ve always felt that Burnett takes twice as long between pitches when he’s throwing something other than a fastball.

I’ve never been as big of a Rob Neyer fan as some other, but he absolutely nails it with his piece on Mackey Sasser Disease.

As good of a writer I believe Jonah Keri to be, I wonder if he didn’t miss his calling as a chase producer.  His latest podcast guest is none other than Bert Blyleven.