11-9-2011: Other areas of need and available free agents

Ben Cherington came out yesterday and suggested that the Red Sox were not likely to be big players on the free agent market this offseason. I think he’s being genuine, but even if they were, what good would it do them to come out and say that?

Here are the problem areas as I see them, and some free agent projections (all numbers assume a transition to the AL East).

1. Starting pitching

With so much money already committed to the rotation, I would be surprised if the Red Sox continued to throw money at this problem. Adding C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish would be nice, but can we afford another $100M contract here, while our core players will be earning more and more every season? Signing a big arm to a long-term deal like that might mean saying goodbye to Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz once their current deals expire.

Name Age IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP
CJ Wilson 31 182.1 8.2 3.7 0.5 3.42 1.30
Roy Oswalt 34 161.6 7.1 2.4 0.9 3.93 1.30
Erik Bedard 33 64.2 8.7 3.5 1.0 3.94 1.36
Hiroki Kuroda 37 154.8 7.2 2.4 1.0 4.06 1.34
Mark Buehrle 33 189.1 4.9 2.1 0.9 4.10 1.39
Edwin Jackson 28 186.5 7.3 3.3 0.9 4.14 1.45
Freddy Garcia 35 109.2 6.1 2.7 1.0 4.27 1.40
Bartolo Colon 39 93.8 7.0 2.7 1.2 4.28 1.40
Javier Vazquez 35 167.3 8.0 2.7 1.3 4.41 1.33
Jeff Francis 31 123.2 5.6 2.4 0.9 4.58 1.46
Paul Maholm 30 161.2 5.5 3.2 0.9 4.68 1.54
Tim Wakefield 45 118.8 5.8 3.3 1.1 4.92 1.46

As you can see, bringing back Tim Wakefield really shouldn’t be an option; almost any free agent is likely to be better than him going forward. Erik Bedard has huge injury concerns, and that’s not what this staff needs. Hiroki Kuroda doesn’t seem likely to come out east. I think Roy Oswalt could be a fit if he’s willing to take a two-year deal at good money, and Buehrle would be a solid signing if we can get him for fewer than four years. Edwin Jackson scares me a little bit long-term, so I’d avoid offering him more than three years as well.

2. A closer/setup man (or two)

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Links 7-22-2010: Trade outlook, getting healthy is painful

There is about a week and a half left before this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, and it appears that the Sox are trying to upgrade their bullpen, outfield and catcher. To me, this year has been all about health, and it may not make sense to pull the trigger on a big trade at this point; Sox Therapy agrees.

According to various reports, the Sox have shown interest in the following players:

Relievers: Scott Downs (TOR), Leo Nunez (FLA)
Outfielders: David DeJesus (KC) , Cody Ross (FLA), Corey Hart (MIL)
Catchers: Chris Iannetta (COL), Chris Snyder (ARI)

That doesn’t mean much in July, however. Everyone’s calling around about options, but that doesn’t mean something’s necessarily going to happen. The market for relievers is notably bad this year – Blue Jays initially asked for Jose Iglesias in exchange for Downs. That shows you how tough it is to actually get a deal done as a buyer. I’m on board with the names on this list, but not so big on spending a lot to get Ross or Hart, not when we already have Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. With Jacoby Ellsbury out until God knows when and Mike Cameron being slow to heal, I’m convinced we need someone who can play a passable center field, and DeJesus fits that the best.

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6-15-2010: What moves could be made?

As we are now fully into the month of June, we know that the two-month “evaluation period” is over, and the Red Sox are looking for ways to improve their team. After a horrid start by Boston and a torrid one by both New York and Tampa Bay, it would be easy to discount the Sox, but the truth is that Boston has the best record of all three teams since May 1 and has climbed to within 4 games of the division leaders.

Team W L Pct RS RA Diff
Boston 26 16 0.619 250 186 64
New York 25 16 0.610 237 173 64
Tampa 23 17 0.575 189 160 29

And that’s been done with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron missing a huge chunk of that time. So it’s not like anything is irreparably broken, but there’s always room for improvement, right?

Evaluating areas of need

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5-10-2010: Brief thoughts about catchers

Victor Martinez is doing a better job holding runners, with only(!) 13 successful steals in the 18 games since that 9 steal debacle on April 20th against Texas. In those 18 games, we’ve caught 8 runners overall using a variety of pitchouts and pick-offs. But my feeling is that something still needs to be done to address the catching issue late in games. The last thing we want to be worrying about in the late innings of a close playoff game is one of our relievers walking a leadoff man, only to have him steal second and reach scoring position. With that in mind, I’ve been musing on possible solutions:

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Links 4-23-2010: How to fix the outfield and catcher, improved defense?

So many good links out there, I had to post a part 2. Given the multiple injuries to our outfield, more and more are asking how to fix it. We know that throwing out runners is a problem; but the question is what are we planning to do about it? At the rate opponents are succeeding now, we could lose perhaps 10 marginal wins to steals alone! We’ve got two catchers on the roster, and neither of them can do a thing about all the thefts. There is a rumor out today that Boston might look at acquiring Chris Snyder from Arizona once he is available. I actually advocated getting him a while back, before we traded for Martinez.

The first set of Ultimate Zone Ratings for 2010 have been released, and the Red Sox are not doing too badly. Marco Scutaro has been mildly disappointing so far, but as a squad, we’ve been the fourth best team by UZR. In an extremely small sample, Bill Hall as been atrocious in center field, which is probably why Darnell McDonald is starting there for now.

Things look dire in Red Sox Nation, I know, but BP reminds us that it’s still really early, and we shouldn’t be counting anyone out yet, especially a team as talented as ours.

Want to know which hitters really pull the ball? Jeremy Greenhouse has a great way to profile hitters that could aid in OF positioning. Part 1 and part 2 are available at Baseball Analysts, a great site. Among the interesting findings, he notes that Jacoby Ellsbury can not go the opposite way with an inside pitch; to me that’s okay, as long as he can turn on it and pull it down the line.

Hot Stove 2010: Sign Matt Holliday

You’re going about this all wrong. Would it be nice to get an elite slugger or a young ace this offseason? Of course! But at what price? Despite how it looked at times, the lineup is strong, and finished 3rd in runs scored, despite playing Nick Green and Jason Varitek as much as we did. And the rotation already has four strong pitchers if Daisuke Matsuzaka can come back. Trading Clay Buchholz now is the wrong move; he will give you 80-90% of what Hernandez will over the next four years at a bargain price. The Red Sox have talent and should continue to build from within. We certainly need to address that left field vacancy, as well as the lack of pop in the lineup; signing Matt Holliday should be enough on both counts, and we can fill in as needed around these guys. Here’s how to approach the off-season with measured restraint:

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2009 Offseason: Sox prepare to make a move

With the Winter meetings less than a week away, the Boston front office is humming with activity. Could there be a big move or two in store after this relatively quiet start to the offseason?

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