6-9-2011: Injuries piling on

I’m feeling pretty good about our Sox right now, as they continue to show how faulty the Yankee rotation is. That being said, there are a number of problems developing on the injury front…

The Dice-K Drama

Daisuke Matsuzaka will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery next week. While many are suggesting that this is the end of his tenure in Boston, he’s still got one year left, and with the speed of recovery these days after TJ, I think we could see him come back for one more go-round. Okay, given the number of headaches Daisuke has given the Red Sox and the amount of time lost to injury, we can safely say that this signing was a failure. Matsuzaka did not live up to the hype or the contract, though he did provide some decent value when he was healthy.

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4-17-2011: Adrian’s extension

I’m a couple of days late on this one, but Adrian Gonzalez made it official with the Red Sox this week, signing a seven-year contract extension worth $154M that goes from 2012 through 2018. The always competent Theo Epstein-led front office saved quite a bundle by announcing the extensions of Clay Buchholz and Gonzalez after the season began, due to the way the 2011 competitive balance tax salary (CBT, or luxury tax number) is calculated.

What can we expect going forward?

Gonzalez is a perennial All-Star, and a hard worker and role model to boot. Already his leadership qualities are being extolled, after just a couple of months with the team. Given the way he’s looked following off-season shoulder surgery this year (.250/.368/.396 with solid defense and some aggressive baserunning), he’s a good bet going forward.

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1-14-2011: The Yankees and Soriano, 2011 draft picks, Sox offseason pays off

The Yankees signed a pretty good reliever in Rafael Soriano yesterday, but curiously, I’m fairly positive about it. I’m happy because his 3-year, $35M deal (with TWO opt-out clauses) smacks of desperation. It’s like they were trying to copy what we did with Bobby Jenks, but botched it badly. Nobody pays this much to a setup guy, but somehow Scott Boras made the Yankees just look foolish. Brian Cashman had to directly go back on his word to sign Soriano, and they gave up their first-rounder to Tampa Bay in order to do it. They also ensured that we would get Texas’ first-round pick for signing Adrian Beltre. The Yankees haven’t improved this offseason, and they have some heavy payroll commitments coming up. I’m not saying that Soriano won’t make them better. He’s a very good player when healthy. But they could end up flushing quite a bit of change down the toilet on this deal.

We’ve done pretty well on gathering draft picks while also improving as a team (getting younger and more athletic). Only Tampa Bay has acquired more early picks, but I’m of the opinion that they will take a pretty big step back this year, so they’ll need them.

The Red Sox offseason has already paid off, as far as upper management is concerned. They are selling tickets like crazy, and ESPN has picked up four of their early games on Sunday nights. They are relevant again. They also have some ticket voucher giveaways coming right up.

Hideki Okajima has resigned with Boston for one year on the team’s terms. I still think he could be mildly effective, though we probably won’t see any more low-2 ERAs from him anytime soon. I feel somewhat comfortable with him and Felix Doubront as lefty options out of the pen, though even the righties don’t have terrible splits against lefties.

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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. It 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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12-03-2010: Varitek re-signs, non-tenders, more Hot Stove

Varitek back for one more dance

The Red Sox brought back 39-year old team captain Jason Varitek on a one year deal worth $2M plus incentives. Given Tek’s lack of production the past two years, it’s safe to say that he would not have found that money elsewhere. But given the Sox’ catching situation right now, I think it’s a good idea.

I have Varitek projected at .221/.305/.377 for 2011, a wOBA of just .309. But historically, he has performed well at the beginning of the year. We could use a good April/May from him as we use that time to evaluate Jarrod Saltalamacchia a bit more. Let’s get something straight – Theo Epstein did not sign him to be our starting catcher. I also don’t think that we will enter 2011 with Saltalamacchia atop our depth chart. There will be another move because…

2011 Non-Tenders

This week was the deadline for teams to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players, and a good number of them hit the free agent market yesterday. There are some catchers you might recognize on that list, including Russell Martin (former All-Star with the Dodgers) and Dioner Navarro. I think the Sox will be in on one of these guys. Just for fun, my 2011 projections for them:

Name AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
Martin 492 132 22 2 11 72 60 70 77 11 0.268 0.366 0.387 0.754 0.350
Navarro 382 95 19 1 8 41 42 30 54 2 0.248 0.308 0.362 0.670 0.305

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Links 11-24-2010: V-Mart reactions, catcher

The news yesterday of Victor Martinez signing with the Tigers has ignited a lot of skepticism about the Red Sox for next season, but it’s still WAAAY too early to judge this offseason. It’s hard to keep perspective on the situation when Detroit’s winning bid was just $8M more than our best offer; for a team like the Red Sox, that’s easily absorbed over four seasons. They simply didn’t like him as their catcher for the long haul, and we have plenty of other needs to fill.

What do we do about catcher now? Everyone is agreed that we have some potentially good options in the pipeline, but we’ll need to sign someone for the short-term while we wait to see what exactly we have in Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty knows he needs to capitalize on this opportunity; let’s just hope he doesn’t pressure himself too much, because the fans won’t cut him much slack, I’m afraid. With the departure of Martinez, catcher could become our new shortstop, that seemingly unfillable position that leaves fans dissatisfied every year.

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11-19-2010: Crazy offseason scenario number 1

All of this Justin Upton talk has me thinking. The Red Sox need two bats to replace Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, and it’s generally thought that we will likely sign a free agent corner outfielder (Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford) and a corner infielder. What if, instead of blowing $100M on two good but aging players, we fill those spots via trade for good young players, utilizing our top prospects? Stay with me here.

Step 1. Send Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Josh Reddick to Arizona for Justin Upton

I know, you’re saying WHAT? But hear me out.

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Links 11-4-2010: Sox hire Young, re-up Ortiz and Atchison, acquire Dlugach, BA prospect rankings

The Sox announced the hiring of Curt Young as their new pitching coach. He’s had a lot of experience working with young pitchers in the Oakland system, and helped them to some good success, even at young ages. Let’s hope that he can work some magic with the veterans here as well. He’s a quality hire by all accounts, and the timing was perfect for us, having just lost John Farrell.

Well, it’s official. As expected, the Red Sox chose to exercise their one-year options on David Ortiz and Scott Atchison, but let utilityman Bill Hall and MI Felipe Lopez go to free agency. While it might be shrewd to save a few million by letting Big Papi go out on the market, it’s not worth saving those millions if he signs with a potential contender like Tampa Bay, who has been looking for a true DH for years. The Sox still have the option of extending him if they so choose later on in the offseason. Atchison is a solid back of the bullpen guy with minor league options, so he was a no-brainer. As for Hall and Lopez, the presence of a healthy Jed Lowrie (knock on wood) makes it unnecessary to pay them big money to back up Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro.

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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.

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Links 8-26-2010: Consensus building, Damon, Lackey and lefties, Reddick back

I’ve been saying it since Dustin Pedroia went back on the DL, but it appears that more and more people are priming their forks to stick into the 2010 Boston Red Sox. The playoffs are a tough sell at this point, but hey, anything can happen in baseball.

For every good thing that happens to the Sox, it seems that there is a black lining to it. Jon Lester was cruising along, but then he gets blown up in his last start. Josh Beckett is back, supposedly healthy, but he still looks shaky. Clay Buchholz has been dominating, but Patrick Sullivan reminds us that his numbers rest on a lot of “luck”. Hideki Okajima is being held at Pawtucket because of his last poor outing. They don’t want him to come to the Majors on a bad note.

There are some interesting names on the waiver wire, though I don’t expect the Red Sox to be able to land any of them. Scott Downs and Manny Ramirez are both out there. I’d like to add Downs, but no way would I claim Manny. The White Sox are reportedly interested in getting him, though. And guess what else? Man-Ram wants another contract extension. Surprise, surprise.

Unlike some, I was not at all surprised at Johnny Damon’s decision not to return to Boston. With the Sox on the very fringe of contending, what reason does he have to come here? The management refused to pay him what he thought he was worth, the fans have given him an icy reception several times, most of his “idiot” friends have moved on, and most of all he knows how this club works. If he came here, he’d be a part-time guy who would only play against righties. I don’t blame him in the least, though I think he could definitely help this team right now.

It appears that more than one observer has commented on John Lackey’s inability to put away left-handed hitters this season. Southpaws have hit .308/.381/.435 off of him this year, but righties hit him to the tune of .301/.353/.493 back in 2008. Splits can be tricky, because of sample size. We don’t know if this is a real problem or just a blip due to a bad year, and we won’t know until at least next year.

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