2008 Offseason: Is it broke?

The Red Sox are positioned to field a highly competitive team for at least the next few seasons, with their veterans locked into various short-term contracts and young talent continuing to come in from their excellent farm system. GM Theo Epstein has already come out and said that the Sox will be “selective shoppers” this offseason.

Here’s what the salary commitments look like as of now, courtesy MLB Trade Rumors.

As I see it, these are the issues to be addressed:

  1. Catcher. Captain Jason Varitek’s contract is up, and agent Scott Boras is at bat against the Sox. The 37-year old is still the best in the game at preparing a game plan and instilling confidence in his pitchers, but the offense leaves quite a bit to be desired. Going forward, the Sox don’t have a proven everyday starter at the all-important catcher position, and they need to fix that this offseason. I expect the Sox to re-up Tek for two years on a part-time, mentoring basis for whoever they acquire to be the catcher of the future for this organization.
  2. “Extra” starters. Coco Crisp has been silently biding his time on the bench, and now that Jacoby Ellsbury has earned his stripes, he wants to be traded somewhere where he can play every day. His late-season performance may convince some team out there to give him a shot. There is also the problem of Julio Lugo and Jed Lowrie at shortstop. The rookie showed a lot this season, but is he ready to be a full-time shortstop?
  3. Bullpen. Mike Timlin has all but finalized his retirement from baseball, so that leaves a gap. David Aardsma was a good pickup last season, but a little more overall solidness would be welcome here. Javier Lopez had a great year, but I still wouldn’t trust him with a ballgame. Manny Delcarmen can be great, but we never know when that greatness will be there; even Jonathan Papelbon experienced some more shoulder woes late this season.
  4. Reserves. We will be losing some key reserves this offseason, including Mark Kotsay and Sean Casey. Kotsay wants to play more somewhere else, and Francona’s hesitance to use Casey late in the year seems to bode ill for his future in Boston, though he’d like to stay. If Coco Crisp and/or Julio Lugo are traded, there will be an even bigger void on this bench

We will get into all of these issues and more in depth this offseason. It will be a very interesting hot stove indeed, with a number of big-name free agents on the market. With the increasing cost of keeping their star players, smaller market teams are opting to trade their star players before their contracts are up, gobbling up young talent which could help make them competitive in the future. Let’s see what path Epstein chooses to take.

Further reading:

Ian Browne’s take on the Sox offseason
Boston Globe article
Michael Silverman
Joe McDonald
John Tomase thinks we need some offensive help


One Response to 2008 Offseason: Is it broke?

  1. Pingback: Poll: Off-season needs « Red Sox Talk

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