Links 11-17-2010: Bullpen options, Sox cap offers to Beltre and Martinez, Justin Upton


The best-laid bullpen plans…

After a disastrous 2010 campaign, everyone acknowledges the need for a bullpen overhaul. However, relievers are famously volatile, and most teams regret free agent deals. That’s exactly why the Sox went out and got LHP Andrew Miller and then claimed RHP Taylor Buchholz on waivers. It turns out that he IS related to Clay Buchholz, BTW, though he’s only a distant cousin.

Theo Epstein has stated that he is not against doing a multi-year free agent deal for the right reliever. The ideal guy seems like LHP Scott Downs, who has had success in the AL East and can pitch to both lefties and righties. But he is a Type A free agent, which means we would owe our first-rounder to Toronto should we ink him. Brian MacPherson lists some non-Type A guys that are of interest, and I like Joaquin Benoit and Koji Uehara, but I don’t see Downs as a problem if we sign another Type A such as Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre or Victor Martinez, since our first-rounder would go to someone else rather than Toronto.

Here are the projections I have for some of the better free agent relievers out there, if they were to play for Boston next year:

Name IP H HR BB SO WHIP ERA
Scott Downs 59.8 55 4 21 50 1.28 3.38
Rafael Soriano* 54.3 43 5 23 58 1.21 3.47
Koji Uehara 54.5 52 5 13 51 1.20 3.50
Frank Francisco 56.7 48 5 22 64 1.24 3.52
Grant Balfour 66.2 52 5 29 73 1.23 3.52
Kerry Wood* 57.5 49 5 26 65 1.31 3.63
Arthur Rhodes 45.8 40 3 23 44 1.37 3.63
J.J. Putz 45.3 42 3 20 47 1.36 3.67
Takashi Saito 50.4 49 4 24 52 1.46 3.74
Jason Frasor 57.2 52 4 26 54 1.36 3.77
Joaquin Benoit 38.1 31 4 17 39 1.25 3.82
Brian Fuentes* 53.9 48 5 28 57 1.40 3.89
Jesse Crain 64.2 59 5 28 54 1.36 3.98
Bobby Seay 39.6 40 3 17 37 1.43 3.99
Dan Wheeler 57.5 47 8 18 49 1.14 4.05
Kevin Gregg 66.0 59 6 31 61 1.36 4.06
Matt Guerrier 75.0 69 9 27 54 1.29 4.14
Scot Shields 47.3 44 4 26 44 1.47 4.19
Pedro Feliciano 56.2 62 5 29 54 1.62 4.20
Jon Rauch 61.3 65 7 24 51 1.45 4.23
Joe Beimel 46.6 52 4 23 31 1.62 4.27
Octavio Dotel* 62.7 57 8 36 75 1.49 4.29
Chad Qualls 61.3 68 6 23 54 1.49 4.31
Dennys Reyes 39.0 40 3 23 33 1.61 4.32
Hisanori Takahashi 115.2 121 13 54 109 1.52 4.32
Will Ohman 40.4 41 4 23 37 1.58 4.51

Guys with asterisks will likely want to close, so they will be very tough to sign for the Red Sox.

Jon Heyman tweets that the market is not really there for Jonathan Papelbon, so don’t hold your breath that he’ll get traded. I’m all for him staying and playing out his final year before free agency. He’ll be motivated to earn that big contract.

Surprisingly, there’s a rumor that Marco Scutaro could be available for the right price. I think this is just a feeler to see if anyone will bowl them over with an offer though. I like Jed Lowrie, but how can you count on him to start more than 120 games?

Beltre and Martinez less likely to return?

There’s a report out today that the Red Sox will not go beyond 4 years and $52M for Beltre, and that they are leaning towards a similar number for Victor. That’s a good example of fiscal discipline with free agent contracts, but it’s also a good way to have someone bid $53M and win out on these guys. To me, it signals that Boston is fully prepared to go on without these two; they probably have their eyes set on one of the other free agent or trade bait prizes out there.

The Florida Marlins have signed our backup plan A, also known as John Buck, to a 3-year, $18M contract. I’m not terribly upset by this, but it does limit our options in an already very limited catcher market. Peter Abraham thinks this is a blessing in disguise, and my projection of Buck for the next three years doesn’t disagree:

Year Age PA AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB HBP Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
2011 30 374 345 84 19 2 13 40 50 24 88 0 5 0.244 0.302 0.423 0.724 0.322
2012 31 367 341 82 19 2 12 39 49 22 86 0 4 0.241 0.296 0.414 0.710 0.316
2013 32 360 336 80 17 1 12 37 47 20 84 0 4 0.238 0.289 0.402 0.691 0.308

Jarrod Saltalamacchia figures to be almost that good, if not better; the question is whether he can be an everyday catcher or not. We just don’t know, so that’s why a Buck-like veteran is a must for us this offseason.

Justin Upton available

The Arizona Diamondbacks, desperate to upgrade their ballclub, have listened to some offers on All-Star RF Justin Upton. The younger and more accomplished of the gifted Upton brothers, Justin has already had an MVP-type season and has yet to play his age 24 season. He is also signed for the next 5 years with $50M remaining on the deal, making him an incredibly attractive baseball commodity. The Red Sox checked in on him, but don’t get too excited – so have the Yankees, and just about everyone else.

What kind of numbers can you expect out of him going forward? Dave Cameron has an answer for you. And here are our raw projections for Upton over the life of his current contract:

Year Age PA AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB HBP Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
2011 24 541 475 129 26 5 21 70 69 62 138 12 4 0.271 0.360 0.477 0.837 0.377
2012 25 570 498 137 28 5 23 75 75 69 144 12 4 0.274 0.367 0.489 0.856 0.385
2013 26 597 519 144 29 5 25 80 81 74 150 12 4 0.277 0.371 0.498 0.869 0.390
2014 27 621 539 150 30 5 27 84 87 78 154 12 4 0.278 0.374 0.504 0.877 0.393
2015 28 640 555 154 31 5 29 87 91 80 158 11 4 0.278 0.374 0.506 0.880 0.393

Not bad, not bad at all (this is a NL projection, and would be downgraded if he switched to the AL). Would he be a nice addition? You bet. But at an estimated $120-150M of surplus value, acquiring him would cost a ton of Major League-ready talent plus one or two upside prospects. We’re talking (Clay) Buchholz, Casey Kelly, Ryan Kalish and Jose Iglesias, maybe more. Is he worth it? I’m not sure. Maybe.

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