Links 11-2-2010: Free agent news, AFL, Farrell farewell, Fenway changes, Fielding Bible, the pitching market

Thing are moving more quickly this offseason, with new rules in play. Three Sox are free agents already, and those with options will find out by Thursday if they are still Red Sox. With Adrian Beltre sure to become a free agent, Kevin Youkilis is doing the prudent thing and preparing to play third, just in case. Peter Gammons doesn’t see the Red Sox being able to keep Victor Martinez anymore. They squandered their chance when they offered only two years and didn’t see him catching for them beyond that timeframe. If he walks, the Sox will have to acquire a veteran catcher as well as make a big splash somewhere else in order to make up for his lost bat. Gammons believes that Boston will sign Carl Crawford, who doesn’t like being the stolen base guy atop the order. With Jacoby Ellsbury already filling that role, he won’t have to be that here. Of course, don’t forget that there are several teams with big money to spend.

The official Elias free agent rankings have been released, and Victor Martinez and Beltre are Type A free agents, as expected. David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell are Type B free agents.

The other move that is percolating (probably at the next trade deadline) is the potential acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez. The Padres have all but admitted they can’t re-sign him beyond 2011, so they’ll be looking for a big return before he walks. With most of the big budget teams set at first base already and not much other competition, we could finally land the big bat we’ve coveted for so long.

Don’t look for Daisuke Matsuzaka to be dealt this offseason (barring a REALLY good offer from some team). While he hasn’t lived up to the hype, he has been more than serviceable as a middle/back-end starter.

The Arizona Fall League is close to wrapping up, and the Sox representatives did pretty well. Casey Kelly had a bad start in there, but impressed overall.

Former pitching coach John Farrell has been named the new manager of the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays. Terry Francona and others have had nothing but great things to say about Farrell, and maintain that he deserved a managerial opportunity. From what I can gather, he is a great baseball mind and a great people person; he will be tough to replace, and Gammons has said that the Sox were “very worried” about losing him. As far as a replacement, there are several candidates, but Curt Young seems to be the odds-on favorite, and as a more hands-on coach, I’d be pretty happy with him.

The Red Sox announced several new improvements to Fenway, including new HD screens and wider bullpens. The bullpen work has already been approved, and that means the fences in right-center are coming in a few feet, which should boost the power numbers for lefties going forward. They are doing this while keeping most ticket prices at the same levels for 2011, so that’s laudable.

Tim Wakefield received the Roberto Clemente Award, and accepted it with humility and professionalism.

This year’s Fielding Bible results are out! The top-rated Red Sox was Beltre, who came in third place at third base. The Red Sox were not nearly as good defensively as we imagined.

We should all be worried about Cliff Lee pitching for the Yankees next season, but at least it seems that Zack Grienke is not keen on pitching for them anytime soon. The bad news is that apart from those two names, there’s not much else on the market right now (that’s one more reason the Sox went ahead with the John Lackey signing last offseason). That might convince the Yankees, who had struggles with starting pitching down the stretch, to shell out the $150-180M it could take to sign Lee, who is, by all accounts, looking for a huge payday. Pray for Texas to re-sign him. Seriously. Kneel and do it now.


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