The West Coast Perspective of Keith Foulke

Dave Isaacs over at Athletics Supporters has done a guest post for Fire Brand. This guest post is especially interesting, for it is from the perspective of an A’s fan on Keith Foulke. Fascinating read. You know, as much as it pains me to say, for I like Foulke a lot … I can see where Dave is coming from. If you put yourself in that situation with, say, Varitek … wouldn’t you be angered too? This may be a glimpse into what we may experience this off-season what with all our free agents.
Keith Foulke. Another ball player whose main fixation is money. About 90% of professional athletes will never admit that they’re money-driven. 8% will openly say “$90 million a year just isn’t enough” – you the man now, Ty Law. The final 2% will deadpan – a la Rasheed Wallace – “CTC”, meaning “cut the check.” The fact of the matter is that 100% of professional athletes are, whether or not one chooses to admit it, driven by money. Counter with the Gary Paytons, the Karl Malones, the Paul Kariyas, whatever makes you sleep at night. You have to remember that these men have had long established careers, and have made more than enough by gouging owners’ pocketbooks. Keith Foulke, ladies and gentleman, is not an asterisk.
“I’m not looking to break the bank,” Keith Foulke had told the San Francisco Chronicle in the September 11th, 2003 paper. “I’m definitely comfortable with what I’m making.” It starts off innocently enough, with a sweet smile in the walk year. Six months later, donning a Red Sox cap with that idiotic smile that showcases his clear braces, Foulke is sitting at a locker having signed a deal that could be worth up to $26.5 million over four years. “I thought I was going back [to Oakland],” Foulke said to the Sacramento Bee as reported on 3/25/04. “But in the long run, the [Oakland] owners decided they couldn’t offer any more money. I was surprised and disappointed at the same time.” He also admitted it came down to money, and the Red Sox simply offered more of it. As of when the article was published, however, he says he wanted to stay with the A’s. Foulke said “I hoped the A’s would come up with a whole lot more, but when they couldn’t, I had to do what was best for my family.”
Oddly, Billy Beane, Athletics general manager, believed the Athletics had plenty to offer to Foulke. “That’s not how I viewed the negotiations,” Beane said of Foulke’s comments. “We made, within our payroll, every effort to return him to Oakland. I don’t believe he said that,” Beane added. “I know he didn’t say that. If there weren’t real negotiations, why did it take so long for him to sign?”
Oh come on, Billy, you know why, Theo Epstein knows why, and Foulke’s agent Dan Horwits knows why. It’s called money! Oakland offered Foulke a $24 million deal over four years, while the Red Sox had offered $21 million over three years. What cemented the deal? A vested option with incentives to raise Boston’s offer from $21 over three to $26.5 over four. And after all Billy, just because Foulke said “I’m happy with what I’m making” in September ’03 does NOT mean he actually intended to have it mean anything. In an article by the Associated Press written on 12/19/03, Foulke mentioned that Bobby Orr, Bruins great, called him and said, “you win in this town and you are forever idolized.” Yes, Keith. Because in Oakland, you are not idolized when you win, you have your pants eaten by leprechauns and then have to wear a tutu back to the hotel. There are plenty of reasons for Foulke’s decision to move to the “least coast”, and Foulke has made it clear what those reasons are. There are twenty seven million of them.
Boston fans, what you have acquired is a “Grade A” money-hungry pig. Then again, Boston is town that houses Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez, “Grade A+” money hungry pigs. As I write this, Foulke has finished his eighteenth inning of work this season and has only given up one earned run. I am thoroughly impressed by Foulke’s ability to pitch extremely well. Please enjoy Foulke’s performance, because it’s extremely doubtful he’ll continue to pitch well for the next four years. It basically starts with Keith Foulke’s delivery. If you’ll watch him throw, notice how he pitches: windup, brief pause, release. That little pause does a pretty good number on a forearm. Try emulating that pitching delivery, and after awhile you’ll feel a little bit sore. Foulke’s not getting any younger, and he’s on pace for around 90+ innings (most since 1999 when he was the other colored sock). In addition, Foulke no longer has the comfy and spacious foul territory in Oakland. A pitcher – no matter who – will almost always drop their ERA quite a bit in Oakland. As well as the foul territory, there is no 40 foot wall about 310 feet in left field. Mix that in with the fact that there is no 302 foot Pesky Pole in Oakland, and you’re got ERA inflation rarin’ to go for Keith. Lastly, Foulke has a 6.12 career ERA against the Yankees in 32 1/3 innings of work. That will work well for your big rivalry. Go ahead Sox fans, relish your precious closer now. In four years, you’ll want a closer-by-committee.