Friday, November 06, 2009

What Next for the Sox?

The very rich Yankees have won the World Series. A friend of mine, a Yankees fan, wrote "I wonder what Theo Epstein is thinking?". This, in turn, got me thinking. Theo is probably thinking that if he had $75-$80MM dollars more that he could have had Sabathia and Texeira...and another rolling rally through Boston.

However, he doesn't. What he does have is a team with aged veterans and lots of questions.

Let's get the easiest area out of the way first:

Many will feel comfortable entering the season with Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Matsuzaka and Wakefield as the 1-5. They have depth at Pawtucket. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing them add John Lackey (who is available). Their inconsistent offense would be carried by a front three of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey. I don't care about an overload of pitching. The Sox should not be comfortable rounding out their rotation with Buchholz (who may or may not develop), Wakefield (who misses longer periods of time each year), and Daisuke (no one can say for sure that he is going back to 18 wins).

The pen should good enough to start the season with Bard getting a full season's shot as the eighth-inning guy and Papelbon still closing games. The Sox should pick up the option on Wagner. He was very effective as a power lefty out of the pen, and can be used in many save opportunities giving Papelbon some rest.

At the catching position you have Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek. Tek did not play at all in the playoffs which means that the Sox are looking to Martinez as the primary catcher. But Martinez is not going to catch every game next year. Will Tek be happy with this as a backup? He'll get his time behind the plate, but probably 60 games at the most. However, behind the plate appearances for Varitek would increase if Lowell continues to be hampered by his injuries. Youk slides to third, Martinez plays first, Tek catches.

Bay entered the free agent pool today. That's a problem. Damon is probably not getting re-upped by the Yankees, and Bay could be wearing pinstripes in a month or two. Bay is probably the best bat available on the free agent market. The Yankees proved beyond a doubt last year that they will throw tons of money around (amounts with which no one could the way, the Yankees spent $97MM more than the Phillies on payroll this year. In their 2008 championship season, the Phillies spent just under $98MM. To demonstrate the gap in the two WS teams this year, that would be like the Rays spending $1.5MM for their total salary last year against the Phillies).

If Damon doesn't resign with the Yankees, is there a chance he returns to Fenway in LF? A two-year contract might get it done.

Gonzales is gone. The Sox love Lowrie, but he might be damaged goods at this point. He is too injury prone to count on as the everyday guy as SS. Marco Scutaro is available, and the Sox should target him.

Youk and Pedroia are fine at first and second. Drew and Ellsbury in RF and CF, respectively, should be ok. There lineup still lacks punch and consistency with Tek, Lowell, and Lowrie.


These are your everyday guys. Matt Holliday is available. If they aren't going after Bay, they better get Holliday. Abreu resigned today, so he is off the market.

Chone Figgins is also a free agent, and a multi-position guy. Primarily a 3b, but flexible. You start to get a NL feel to this team with Figgins and Ellsbury at the top. Is that a bad thing?

What I am hoping the Sox do NOT do is follow their current trend of retreads (see Penny, Smoltz, Baldelli). Texeira to the Yankees is a division changer for years to come. Without Bay, there isn't a difference maker on the Sox. And despite Bay's numbers, he didn't "feel" like a difference maker.

All the other teams in the East have holes. Tampa couldn't hold on to Kazmir, they have to try to get a deal done with Crawford (which means they probably won't be huge players in the FA market this offseason). Toronto isn't getting better. Baltimore is a mess. But this doesn't guarantee a post-season birth for the Sox. Out west, the Rangers will be very good again this year, and the Angels are poised for another strong season. The Sox cannot expect that 95 wins gets them in. Too many other teams will be in the Wild Card running. They need to change enough where they can make a run at the division.

So, what do they do? That is the question...


  1. I like the sound of Lackey! That would be AWESOME. The other thing is that Halladay is in a contract year, so he could be available at the trading deadline. How much would that ROCK.

    LF is a problem. We got Hermida today (see my post below), which is an insurance policy if we lose Bay, which I think will happen. So I kind of like the idea of going after a monster lefty power hitter - is that Matt Holliday?

  2. Wow. I check in for the first time in months. And there is a new post. No guarantee I’ll be back soon, but here goes.

    First of all, I was thrilled to see Matt's post. And it was a classic. What is Grieve post without the projected lineup?

    And what was funny was that as I was reading through the thoughts, I found myself agreeing with a small point here and disagreeing with another small point there. Nothing major, I'll get those in a few minutes. But the thing that hit me was this:

    "What I am hoping the Sox do NOT do is follow their current trend of retreads (see Penny, Smoltz, Baldelli)."

    To which I say Amen. A-fucking-men.

    I'll also add Saito, Paul Byrd, Bartolo Colon.

    I'm not going to bitch about the Yankees. They are what they are. And to 28 other teams, the Red Sox might as well be the Yankees. The key is how to make this team better.

    Starting pitching. I think you hit the nail on the head with the rotation. I think Theo will be comfortable with those guys as the rotation. But if they find a way to upgrade, they will. I don't think its Lackey and a 5 year deal. But if they can make a trade for Felix Hernandez or some other stud. They'd consider that. But most likely they go into the season with those guys. Hope for the best. And make a move in July if needed. Not ideal. But at least Bucholz or Dice K could have solid years.

    Another thing to consider is Beckett only has one year left on his contract. I think they will want to address that.

    As for the pen. I think that should be a strong point again. Hopefully Papelbon can stop being a dick. And actually pitch well again. Stop pumping all fastballs in there. Delcarmen is probably gone. Too inconsistent. But Paps, Ramirez, Bard, Oki. That's a good foundation. I don't know about Wagner. I think he is a full on FA and there is no option. They can offer arbitration, but that would give him a $10MM salary. Not what you want to pay a set up man.

    I think Tek is back. And he'll be the 60 game catcher. He has an option to come back ($3MM) and I doubt he gets more anywhere else. He'll deal with the secondary role.

    LF is the tough one. I have to say I had never thought of Damon coming back. And the more I think about it, the more I like. I agree on the thought that Bay is not a difference maker. He hits weak pitching extremely well. But seems to struggle against good guys. So I really have no idea what they are thinking in LF. I just don't see them going after Holliday after he struggled so badly in the AL and Boras is his agent - he'll want to much $$ and I think there is bad blood there from the Teixeira mess. No one will admit it. But I think its there. Which could impact a Damon signing as well.

    So, the $1 Million dollar question. Or the $100 Million question, because this is really going to define this team. What are they going to do to upgrade the offense. Theo already acknowledged that they need to be more consistent. So how do they do that? Holliday? Trade for Gonzalez? Who knows.

    Don't be so quick to write off Gonzalez. I think they love his D. And they could live with the crappy bat. His $6MM option is too rich, but if they can find a middle ground, I think that is possible. And that is largely because Lowrie is always hurt.

    So it should be interesting offseason. They need to get better. I do think 95 wins is enough to make the playoffs. I'm not sure any team has ever won 95 games and not made the playoffs (after they expanded to the WC format). Forget about the Yankees. They are going to continue to spend $$. They may even sign Lackey. Petitte is coming off the books. As are Damon and Hideki. That’s about $40MM they have to play with.

    Happy hot stove. And go Pats. I know know. Go Steelers for Grieve.

  3. Oh and one more thing we will hear alot about this winter. Rumors, rumors and rumors.

    I think we will hear about 10 huge players the Sox will "be pursuing." And rightfully so - you might as well ask who is available, as we found out last winter with Hanley Ramirez. You might not get the player, but you sure as heck should ask.

    They'll ask on Halladay, Hanley again, and obviously Gonzalez and Felix Hernandez. But don't be surprised when you hear about Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran, Miguel Cabrera,and Brad Hawpe Maybe even some names that don't make sense - Dunn, Mark Reynolds.

    We are going to hear some crazy rumors....

  4. We'll probably also hear the names Rich Harden, Ben Sheets and Erik Bedard. Thhe "low risk, high reward" guys that we've seen in the past.

    Which of course will not make anyone happy. I mean really, who from that category has paid off over the past 4 years? Oki? That's about it.

  5. retreads! Lots of Harden talk, and I am not up for that. Unlimited potential, limited amount of innings due to frequent injuries...

    I don't think the Sox take a trade run at Halladay. Why give up a lot of prospects to get him for this year only? They'd have to sign him to an extension and I think he's going to hit the open market and look for his payday.

    Is anyone on the current roster "untouchable"? I might say no. I thought with the way Papelbon was going last year that he was getting traded at the trade deadline for Adrian Gonzalez (along with a Bowdoin and a top pick or two). Lester is probably as close as you come to "untouchable".

    They don't need a big bat. They need a HUGE bat. Since there aren't many on the open market, it might be time to trade. They just don't have a legit threat (despite being third in runs scored). I think this goes back to what X says about Bay...they kill crappy pitching and can't hit the good stuff.

  6. By the way...I hope that we stick with posting again. I miss this!!!

  7. Untouchables. Probably Lester, Pedroia and maybe Bard. And, I'm sure there are some guys in the minors that they would not deal under almost any scenario - Casey Kelly and Ryan Westmoreland are the names we hear the most.

    But to me, the idea of an untouchable prospect is kind of silly. I think what gives them pause in making these huge deals is when you need to give up four big time prospects.

    And just to clear this up - I am in no means endorsing Harden.

  8. From tom Verducci at SI.

    Otherwise, this is a landmine of potential problems. There is grab bag of injury risks (Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer, Kelvim Escobar, Jose Contreras, Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets, Mark Mulder, Mark Prior and Mike Hampton) and rotation fillers (Jason Marquis, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Brad Penny, Carl Pavano, Jarrod Washburn, Joel Piniero and Doug Davis). Beware: The Red Sox dipped into this grab bag last year to put more than a quarter of their season in the hands of Penny, John Smoltz and Paul Byrd. Boston went 20-24 in those starts.

    As I was reading the first half of that, even before he mentioned the Sox, I was thinking "Yikes, don't let Theo see that list, he'll want to sign half those guys.