Link 4-20-2011: Who’s afraid of the Yankees?

Yeah, they’re on top of the division, but looking at the New York Yankees, they’ve got some issues to deal with. Beyond the Box Score sums it up rather well, but here are three bullet points:

The rotating rotation

Even with the solid performance of Ivan Nova, they were already down a rotation spot. Now with Phil Hughes not able to repeat his early success, the Yankees are stuck with some combination of Kevin Millwood, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Andrew Brackman to fill 1.25 slots. Oh, and A.J. Burnett is the other starter. Forgive me for being underwhelmed. I don’t see any of these guys being able to produce a Hughes-like season, apart from Hughes. They need quality innings, and it’s not clear how many they can get out of this group.

Unsustainable offense

The Yankees have been on an offensive tear, thanks to a Major League-leading 29 home runs in 15 games, or a clip of two taters per contest. I know they’ve got firepower, but that’s a lot, even for them. Consider that last year, Toronto hit only 257, or 1.58 per game to lead all of baseball in that category. The Yankees are hitting .256 as a team, but have suffered from some poor BABIP (.256 as a team) so they will stand to get some more hits. But they will experience a power outage at some point, and it’s gonna hurt.

Read more of this post


1-24-2011: Papelbon and Ellsbury sign, looking at the recent AL East moves, SS controversy?, the farm system

Warning: long post ahead! If you get bored, check out the countdown to the pitchers and catchers report date here.

Sox avoid arbitration with Papelbon and Ellsbury

Never fear arbitration, Red Sox Nation – Theo Epstein is here. Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury both agreed to new one-year contracts last week, avoiding arbitration despite what were seen to be complex cases. Epstein did the right thing by both players, finalizing the payroll and letting us move on to the more important questions.

For Papelbon, he’s accumulated elite closer stats at a young age, but there are indications that he’s losing his dominance in recent years, and reports that the Sox considered trading him this offseason; that didn’t prevent him from getting a $12M deal for his last year under team control. Should Papelbon leave via free agency after this season, he will almost undoubtedly be a Type A free agent. But those two compensation picks are not guaranteed, since Paps is someone who might actually accept arbitration should the Sox offer it. One look at this year’s reliever deals (apart from Rafael Soriano’s deal), and you’ll see why making $13-15M with the Sox for one season might look better than signing elsewhere, especially if the Yankees (currently with two closers under contract for 2012) are out of the running. Not to mention that several other big-name relievers could hit the market for 2012, including the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton and the Padres’ Heath Bell. This has led to speculation by some that the Sox will try to trade Papelbon during this season, so as to get something for him rather than let him walk for nothing. I think that if the Sox do as well as we all think they will, they will keep him on the squad, and he can walk. It’s worth it if he pitches well.

Then there’s Ellsbury, who looked to be on the up and up until the “unstoppable” Adrian Beltre derailed him for basically all of 2010. With a possible rift between him and the team, questions about his toughness and ability to play regularly, some were arguing that the Sox should try to lowball Ells. That would have been a bad move, and will not work with Scott Boras. As it is, he’s satisfied for now and will try to reestablish his value for next year’s arbitration negotiations.

Manny, Damon and Vernon Wells…

The Rays, Jays and Yankees all made some moves recently in what looks like a bid to catch up with the Red Sox. In what seems like a bad joke, Andrew Friedman reeled in both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez this week. Damon gives them someone who can play left and give Desmond Jennings a chance to take his time, and he can even spell Dan Johnson at first. Manny will probably be the first legitimate DH they’ve ever had.

Damon LF 622 559 151 30 7 13 87 60 61 90 20 0.271 0.344 0.422 0.766 0.351
Ramirez LF 459 397 114 23 3 18 61 65 56 87 3 0.288 0.384 0.491 0.875 0.391

Damon is still a very solid hitter (though the defense is a problem), and with Manny, they may not even feel the loss of Carlos Pena. Both former idiots are aging players and Manny has got his team chemistry issues, but winning solves all ills, so it could work out well for them at a very low cost.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post


Links 12-1-2010: The plan forming, Victor as a DH, compensation picks, trading Scutaro, Guerrier, Parraz, Spring Training schedule

It’s starting to look like a near certainty that the Red Sox will sign one of either Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford. As I’ve said before, I like the idea of adding Werth as a long-term right-handed bat with some punch, though Crawford would be a good add as well. Werth is pretty good on defense as well, while Crawford is stellar in that category. Signing either would go a long way towards replacing the offense we’ve lost from last year’s team.

Yes, it’s been a slow offseason so far, but before you start complaining about how the Sox never spend money, read this. They are simply waiting it out. Werth is a Boras client, so any offer made now would simply be used as leverage to drive up the price. Werth will almost certainly not sign before Christmas, and may even hold out until late January.

Read more of this post


Links 9-20-2010: Beckett and Lackey, farm awards, V-Mart, crowdsourced contracts

Joe Pawlikowski examines Josh Beckett and John Lackey, and concludes that Beckett is probably more likely to return to form next season.

The Red Sox announced their minor league awards for 2010. Pitcher of the year is Felix Doubront, who did great as a starter, then bit the bullet to relieve for the Major League club.

After years of our top prospects kind of flaming out and struggling, Ryan Lavarnway and Anthony Rizzo are building some real value after very strong 2010 campaigns. And don’t forget Oscar Tejeda and Jose Iglesias, who also performed very well this year. Prospect guru John Sickels believes that Rizzo has passed up Lars Anderson as the top 1B prospect in our system.

The Red Sox signed four more international players, according to the Full Count blog.

Sully at Red Sox Beacon puts Darnell McDonald’s season into context for us. Yes, his defense was exposed in center field, but McDonald was better than a lot of  “name” outfielders out there this year. Without him, this team would have been sunk a while ago.

Read more of this post


2010 AL East Preview: Sox, Yankees reloaded

As Spring Training finally dawns, we are looking at two teams at the top of the division with significant turnover from this offseason. The Yankees have shed several older, oft-injured players and added a powerful left-handed bat in OF Curtis Granderson. For their part, Boston has decided to focus on run prevention with the signing of John Lackey and even sacrificed OBP in order to improve their team defense in this “bridge year”. The Tampa Rays have another year of development and polish on their young and talented core. Meanwhile, Toronto has gone into rebuilding mode with the trade of Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and the Orioles’ youth movement is on the cusp of paying dividends. What can we expect to see in 2010? Read more of this post