Christmas was early for a few lucky souls

Posted Dec. 18, 2008, at 10:51 p.m.

Hey, Santa, is there anything left in that major league baseball bag of money for free-agent signings?

Christmas has come early for a few lucky souls who will know nothing of the tough economy, reminding us yet again just how much money teams make in the wonderful game of baseball.

We fans make it all possible and no fans make more possible than those of the Sox.

Boston announced that it set a new record last weekend of 243,000-plus single-game tickets sold over a two-day period for the 2009 season’s games. The Sox also sold 31,000 tickets for spring training games.

What recession?

The lucky players who benefit from the fans’ largesse around MLB and have already dipped into Santa’s bag and are following the slotting process of the game.

The Elias Sports Bureau is hired by MLB to produce rankings of players to help determine compensation in the free agent market. The players are grouped by DH/1B/OF, catchers, 2B/3B/SS, starting pitchers, and relief pitchers.

Twenty percent of the players in each category are type A and 20 percent are type B. That determines what a team receives from another team if it loses players in those categories: a type A brings a draft pick and a type B brings a “sandwich” pick in the amateur draft.

Equally important, the rankings are used by agents and teams to slot players for compensation.

CC Sabathia was the No. 1-ranked starter for both leagues and Santa delivered a seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees.

Mark Teixeira is the highest-ranked position player in either league and that’s why he has Santa flying all over the sky looking for a tree under which to deposit the cash.

The same is true for Manny being Manny, as Ramirez is ranked third behind Matt Holiday and Albert Pujols in the NL. Manny has Santa reaching deep down.

As these top names in the rankings are signed the rest will fall into their appropriate salary slots and the signing game will pick up.

What’s the biggest surprise under the tree so far? Rafael Furcal re-signed with the Dodgers for $30 million-plus for three years. He is unranked at this time because injuries kept him out of most of last season. Santa sometimes takes gift-giving risks.

Happy holidays and may they be safe.

On a personal note, a dear friend and a broadcast voice familiar to many in Maine, Don Perry, passed away unexpectedly this week. Don and I worked together at WABI radio back in the day.

He started at WGUY in Bangor, playing the hits, and went on to WPBC, Channel 7 and was a teacher and mentor to many at the New England School of Communications.

He loved the business and gave freely of his immense talents to individuals and organizations.

It was the ’60s and we were playing top-40 rock and roll, running record hops and emceeing dances at the Brewer Auditorium.

Don was a wonderful broadcaster and a good man. We who knew him will miss him greatly.

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