12-9-2010: Sox sign Carl Crawford!

Not a bridge year indeed. Peter Abraham reports that the Red Sox have signed free agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142M contract. Ken Rosenthal confirms this too. If this is what Theo Epstein means by a complementary player… There go the theories about shrinking the payroll.

Wow. Just wow.┬áIt has long been known that the Sox coveted Crawford, but I did not expect this. The Sox are opening up the vaults in their best imitation of the Yankees. There’s one major difference, however. Epstein is locking himself into long-term deals, yes. But he is locking up players who are still in their prime and play defense as well as hit, providing value in more than one dimension.

As MLB Trade Rumors points out, scooping up Crawford is a major coup in a division where they are taking him from the Rays and keeping him from the Yankees. Perhaps drinking his own Kool-Aid on Brett Gardner’s excellent 2010, Brian Cashman was a bit late to the Crawford party, and it cost him big.

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Links 9-20-2010: Offer to V-Mart, Ortiz’ option, Youk, Ethier, Drew, Darvish

The Sox apparently made a two-year offer to Victor Martinez, which he understandably turned down. I know they don’t want to sign him long-term to be their catcher, but this is an obvious low-ball offer to one of the upper-tier free agent prizes this offseason. I’d love to see them grab him for 3-4 years, with the understanding that he will transition mostly to 1B/DH towards the end of the deal.

There was an earlier report that the Sox are prepared to pick up David Ortiz’s $12.5M option for 2011. I’d be very surprised if they went this route rather than explore a multi-year deal at a lower annual salary.

Here is a rundown on what the Red Sox rotation could look like next year (hint: it’s very similar to this year’s model). Look for the Sox to try and ink Clay Buchholz to an extension, thought they might want to wait until his stock drops some. His numbers this year are kind of crazy good, and probably a bit better than we can expect from him going forward.

Here are the players going who are eligible to go to arbitration this offseason.

Always the good soldier, Kevin Youkilis has gone on record saying that he’ll play wherever the Sox ask him to next year. Normally you don’t worry about moving a Gold Glove first baseman, but moving Youk to third base could give the Sox flexibility in case they can’t re-sign Adrian Beltre this offseason.

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6-18-2010: Sox sweep Dbacks, Manny happy returns?

Game notes: The Sox draw to within just TWO GAMES of first place! Both John Lackey and Dan Haren are having down years, in what should normally have been a pitcher’s duel last night. Lackey was shaky all game, working high in the zone and they were smacking him all over the ballpark. That errant throw to first in the 3rd was very ill-advised. Anybody else find David Ortiz’s slide in the first inning to be hysterical? Judging from Kevin Youkilis’ out at second, the Sox could use a refresher on sliding. Manny Delcarmen allowed some baserunners, sure, but he was locating alright and getting ground balls; they just found their way through the infield. Lastly, is it jsut me, or has Jonathan Papebon dropped his arm slot even more? It looked like he has moved to a low 3/4 slot yesterday, which allowed him to locate heat right at the knees. Hope it doesn’t indicate anything health-wise for him.

As the Dodgers come into town tonight, this article by Peter Abraham just about sums it up. I can tell you for my part that I will not be cheering for Manny Ramirez. Yes, he did a lot for this ballclub in his day, but he received all the applause he’s getting from me. I refuse to support that kind of player.

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Links 6-4-2010: Bogar’s fault?, draft outlook, Sox sweep AL awards for May

Tim Bogar has apologized for getting both Victor Martinez and Darnell McDonald thrown out at home with no outs. We ended up losing by one run, despite getting 18 hits; and that hindsight has a lot of people upset at Bogar. Saberist Tom Tango points out that sending the runners may not have been wrong, and that teams are generally too conservative on the basepaths. So it’s not always so clear cut- but I’d say that he should have held up because Martinez, who is a slow runner to begin with, has been struggling with a bruised big toe. McDonald also banged his right knee on a pickoff play at first earlier, and was sort of loping home, and was thrown out easily. I think the injury concerns should have forced him to be a little less aggressive with these guys. But let’s not pin the loss on just these two outs. If we pitch and play defense better in a game where Brett Anderson leaves after two innings, we win, plain and simple.

This year’s amateur draft is quickly approaching, and the Red Sox, with 4 of the first 57 picks, are salivating over the talent that’s available. The last time we had this many picks that high (in 2005), we ended up with Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Bowden. Apart from Bryce Harper and a couple of other guys, there isn’t a lot of separation between the players in the rest of the first round, and Theo Epstein thinks that could help us out this year.

Congratulations go out to David Ortiz and Jon Lester, the AL Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively. Not surprisingly, Ortiz says confidently that the wrist is no longer an issue. Well, duh.

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Links 5-10-2010: The Yankees series, the rotation, more Ortiz, Cameron starts rehab

I won’t rehash this series for you to too much gory detail. Just check out the excellent game summaries at WEEI’s Full Count blog (game 1, game 2, game 3). Not a lot to be enthused about, despite yesterday’s win. Still, I’m not panicking.

With the two bad starts against the Yankees this weekend and the pattern of bad pitching to start this season, there are plenty of questions being raised. Perhaps the Red Sox are not preparing their pitchers properly coming out of Spring Training? I think it’s some bad pitching, some bad luck, and some bad defense all converging in a perfect storm of sorts. There’s some hope, as Jason Varitek, John Farrell and Terry Francona all swear that Josh Beckett started off with some really sick (in a good way) stuff on Friday, only to implode in the 6th inning. Even Daisuke Matsuzaka’s fastball snapped back in the second inning after that awful first on Saturday. He’s happiest with his progress on that pitch. Once the rotation gets upright, the overworked bullpen is sure to follow. Let’s hope we are past the worst of it.

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Links 3-29-2010: Sox won’t go long with Beckett, get Schoenweis and Frandsen

Gordon Edes reports that the Sox are not willing to extend the same contract to Josh Beckett that was given to John Lackey this offseason. The difference seems to be in their concerns long-term about his shoulder; whereas Lackey had tricep and elbow issues the past two years, he seems to be healthy again. As a result, the Sox want to limit any deal to four years, rather than commit a fifth year to Beckett. Peter Abraham speculates that a four-year deal could be worth about $66M.

Soon after releasing lefty Brian Shouse the other day, the Sox signed LHP Scott Schoenweis to a minor league contract. Brian MacPherson at the ProJo gives us the slash lines of lefty hitters against Schoenweis since 2005. Pretty impressive. Apparently he has always wanted to play for the Sox. A widower and single father with four young kids, I do wish him the best of luck.

The Red Sox also made a deal with the Giants for infielder Kevin Frandsen this week. He’s not the strongest defender, but he’s good enough and he posted a strong .312/.369/.456 line at Triple-A (yes, that is the PCL, where all offense is exaggerated, but still!). Frandsen will in all likelihood fill the role of Jed Lowrie until he is fully recovered from his mononucleosis, which can knock out people for months in severe cases. Dave Cameron gave his take on Frandsen as a good utility infield option, and I don’t have much to add to that.

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Links 2-26-2010: Epstein interview, Pedey 5th?, draft picks, Papi’s pop

Theo Epstein did a pretty lengthy interview on WEEI recently, and it’s worth a read. He addresses the 2009 Red Sox defense and how the direction of this offseason came about. He touches on Mike Lowell, Mike Cameron, and Adrian Beltre. Interestingly, he notes that the Bill James Handbook doesn’t contain James’ “actual” projections. “They just slap his name on it” is the way he puts it. Epstein mentions some of the detail work that James’ team does for Boston, including regression to the mean, etc.

John Tomase writes that the Red Sox have considered moving Dustin Pedroia down to 5th in the order, though Pedey himself has not heard anything. I don’t know about “20-homer power” (Pedroia’s high was 17 in his MVP season), but the addition of Marco Scutaro does give the Sox another tough out and OBP guy who could fit well in the #2 slot. My guess is that if Jacoby Ellsbury falters out of the gate, you will see Scutaro-Pedroia atop this order, and they’ll work well together. Otherwise, Scutaro will hit near the tail of the order.

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Links 2-8-2010: Spring Training roster forming, keeping Beckett, Bill James projects the Sox

The Sox announced a partial list of players invited to Spring Training this week. Check it out at Extra Bases blog. Peter Abraham asks, given the amount of talent we’ve got, is it worth it to make another move?

Josh Beckett’s contract is up after 2010, and the Sox are reportedly tossing around numbers to extend him. While some suggest that he’s due at least 5 years and $85M, there may be some concern about his shoulder. Boston might offer him something that looks more like a slightly smaller version of Roy Halladay’s 3-year, $60M deal instead.

Bill James’s Baseball Abstract has been released, and here is a summary of what it says about our 2010 Red Sox.

Someone in the saber community did a workup using PITCHf/x and finds that a consistent trend of pitchers having lower release points at Fenway than at other parks. He says it’s likely the positioning of the cameras, but it does show that even PITCHf/x has some issues to work out.

Some more front office maneuvering by the Sox.

Links 1-22-2010: More on Bay, prospects news, Hazen interview

More and more details continue to be revealed regarding the negotiations between the Red Sox and Jason Bay from last season. Bay confirmed that Boston was wary of signing him because of concerns about his knees. Bay insisted he was healthy, but the Sox medical team didn’t agree, which led to the rift in contract talks. Good luck in New York, Jason, and thanks for the 1.5 great seasons here.

News from the rookie program: He may be slightly built (he’s still just 20 years old), but Jose Iglesias has really impressed his fellow prospects so far with his slick defensive play. Peter Abraham met the guys in the Rookie Program, and gives his thoughts on some of the players.

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Links 1-7-2009: More about Beltre & Cameron, DiamondView, personnel changes

Adrian Beltre can be considered historically good at 3B defense, according to Dave Cameron. Check out his highlight reel below, if you aren’t convinced (via Peter Abraham and Amalie Benjamin). ZiPS likes Beltre to put up a 97 OPS+ in Fenway this year, and there is some upside if he is completely healthy.

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