Hot Stove 2010: New-look Red Sox

It hasn’t escaped most people’s attention that the recent off-season signings by the Red Sox have been a bit out of character for Theo Epstein’s Red Sox. Don’t get me wrong, the team was always meant to feature good pitching and defense, but the offensive philosophy was founded on plate discipline, seeing a lot of pitches, wearing down the starter and getting on base. We don’t really see that with the recent position player signings:

Hitters added (with lifetime OBP/SLG)

Marco Scutaro (.337/.384)
Mike Cameron (.340/.448)
Adrian Beltre (.325/.453)

At least Scutaro is a great contact hitter and has walked a lot more in recent years. We project him for an OBP of about .360 this year. But Cameron and Beltre are not really good on-base guys, especially at this point in their careers. Besides being some of the top defenders in baseball the last decade at their positions, what these two have in common is that they are both right-handed hitters with above average pop. The Sox are making up for the loss of Jason Bay with a more balanced, more righty lineup and by significantly upgrading the defense. While Cameron and Beltre can’t totally replace a premium righty bat in this lineup, Boston is doing its best to make up in other areas with short-term free agent deals, while preserving the farm. This is what Epstein refers to as a “bridge year”.

Hitters subtracted

Alex Gonzalez (.294/.395)
Mike Lowell (.343/.468)
Casey Kotchman (.337/.406)

I promise you we will not miss Gonzalez and his .294 OBP. Scutaro is a much better hitter and adequate (and perhaps better) in the field. Gonzalez had a good 2009, and he looked awesome out there after seeing Nick Green and Jed “Hobbled” Lowrie out there, that’s all. Beltre projects to be very similar to Lowell at the dish this year in Fenway, only with top of the line defense at third. Kotchman is also talented defensively, but he has limited positional flexibility, and it’s harder to find a good-fielding third baseman who can hit. Assuming that Lowell will not be on the roster, that leaves us with this positional roster:

Infield: Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre
Outfield: J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury
DH: David Ortiz
Bench: Jason Varitek, Bill Hall, Jed Lowrie, Jeremy Hermida

That’s a talented and deep team. There’s no question that we’ve improved overall, but by how much have we improved? Let’s try and estimate that in the next post.


3 Responses to Hot Stove 2010: New-look Red Sox

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    BTW I have updated projections for Scutaro, Cameron and Beltre based on team and league changes. For your amusement:

    Scutaro .274/.360/.390 with 33 doubles, 9 HR
    Cameron .244/.328/.443 with 34 doubles, 22 HR and 70 RBI
    Beltre .266/.316/.428 with 35 doubles, 15 HR and 61 RBI

    And here’s Jason Bay in Citi Field:
    .267/.370/.498 with 22 doubles, 31 HR and 106 RBI

  2. Tim Wright says:

    any thoughts about what’s going to happen with 6 starting pitchers?

    I’ve heard the Bucholz trade rumors but I don’t see too much we could go after beside Adrian Gonzalez, but then where would he play?

    • redsoxtalk says:

      Thanks for the question, Tim. I’ll be sure to address that in the next post. Basically, I think Wakefield will start the year either on the DL or possibly in the bullpen.

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