8-6-2010: Youkilis lost for the year, Cleveland redux, Yankees on tap

Now comes the disturbing and somehow predictable news… Kevin Youkilis will have surgery today and will miss the rest of the 2010 season. This news could not have come at a worse time, with guys like Dustin Pedroia and Mike Cameron still out, Victor Martinez playing hurt and Jacoby Ellsbury just trying to get back into the swing of things. We need to win now if we want to stay in the chase.

What will the Red Sox do about first base? For now, they will play Mike Lowell there every day. Despite his Daniel Nava-like heroics in his first at-bat, there are still some serious health concerns with Lowell. He may not be able to play every day, so we’re going to need a quality left-handed bat to complement him. For now, there are no plans to promote Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Lars Anderson. Theo Epstein would like to see if Salty can stick at catcher, so he’ll be working on that for now. J.P. Ricciardi really likes the addition of Salty, and says that it could really pay off down the line.

As far as other options, I think the Sox are trying to avoid paying any real talent to try and salvage what looks like it could be a lost year already. Jed Lowrie has reportedly taken some reps at first base as a fill-in for when Lowell can’t go. They will reportedly audition Carlos Delgado, and they do have room on the 40-man roster, but I’d be surprised if the Sox committed to play him while Lowell is around. He’s an option only if Lowell clears waivers and is traded. There are some other DFA/FA options out there as well, such as Casey Kotchman and Daric Barton.

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Links 03-23-2010: Mauer, Crawford, Westmoreland, roster shuffling

In case you’ve been living in a cave the past few days, Joe Mauer signed a prodigious 8-year extension with the Twins. That means Victor Martinez becomes the top free agent catcher after this year. To his credit, he says that the deal doesn’t change anything for him and that the ball in is in the Red Sox’ court.

While we’re on the topic of next offseason, it looks like if we want Carl Crawford, we’re going to have to outbid New York for him after 2010.

Ryan Westmoreland was able to leave the ICU last week after his brain surgery, and the prognosis looks good going forward.

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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:

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Links 1-5-2010: Kotchman traded to Seattle, Ellsbury to LF, Beltre reactions

Apparently Casey Kotchman is headed to Seattle in a trade that would bring 3B/OF Bill Hall to Boston, along with cash and perhaps a minor leaguer. The cash is because Hall will earn roughly twice as much as Kotchman in 2010. Hall is a lifetime .251/.309/.441 hitter, a super-utility player who can play a pretty strong 3B and man the corner outfield spots, and even play CF or middle infielder in a pinch. He is yet another right-handed, low-OBP guy with some power (is it just me, or did Theo kind of go crazy with these types all of a sudden?). He does strike out about 30% of the time; if you thought Jason Bay struck out a lot, you ain’t seen nothin yet.

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2010 Hot Stove: Sox sign Beltre for one year

This. Is. Awesome. I have written disparaging things about the Sox getting Adrian Beltre, but that was when I thought it would take a four-year deal to get him. Instead, the Red Sox have signed him to a one-year contract at $9M with a $5M player option with a $1M buyout for 2011. Basically the way it works is the player can opt out if he thinks he will be worth more than $5M on next year’s free agent market.

Given Beltre’s injury woes and questions surrounding his age, I think this is a dream deal for the Sox, and I am utterly shocked that Scott Boras allowed Beltre to sign this small of a deal. There are rumors suggesting that Beltre turned down significantly more money from at least two other clubs (thought to be the Angels and A’s) in order to play for Boston.

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Links 12-18-2009: Player awards, Lowell and Kotchman, Holliday turned down Sox

Jon Lester was voted the Red Sox pitcher of the year by the Boston chapter of the baseball writers association. No argument here. Also, congratulations are in order for Jacoby Ellsbury, who MLB.com This Year in Baseball fans voted the best defensive player in baseball last season. Great compilation of his web gems, but it’s the routine plays that matter more in the long run. As much as I like Ells, I would never claim that he’s the best gloveman in the Majors. Fans love the highlights, though.

The Mike Lowell trade should be worked out or fail by the end of this weekend, writes the ProJo. That thumb is a big factor for a team like the Rangers. If the Sox are truly seeking to sign Adrian Beltre, it won’t happen before this situation is laid to rest one way or another.

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Links 12-15-2009: The other shoe, the 4th outfielder, Aroldis

As I’ve detailed here, we have a pretty strong team as currently constituted. But this early in the offseason, could Theo Epstein already be done? We’ve improved the pitching and the defense, and filled the LF vacancy, but are we going to trade Mike Lowell and just stand pat? Will we really move Kevin Youkilis to third base in order to start Casey Kotchman at first? I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Buster Olney tweets that the Sox are now looking into signing a right-handed outfielder “such as Xavier Nady”. Isn’t the fourth outfielder usually the kind of thing you deal with after everything else is set? Or maybe Nady is not a fourth outfielder at all, and this is setting up a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury, with Cameron moving to CF (Cameron has stated that he wants to play centerfield). Scutaro’s .360 OBP is good enough to bat leadoff, and he and Dustin Pedroia would give pitchers fits with their long at-bats.

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Hot Stove 2010: Lackey on board, Cameron next?

With the surprise signing of John Lackey today, the Sox may have decided to freeze out Matt Holliday and agent Scott Boras altogether. A signing of that magnitude would suggest no room to add someone with Holliday’s salary requirements. Ken Rosenthal now says that the Sox are in serious talks with CF Mike Cameron about a two-year deal. The power-hitting Cameron has maintained that he wants a full-time job in centerfield, and UZR suggests that he would be a huge upgrade (+10.0 runs in 2009) over Jacoby Ellsbury (-18.6 runs in 2009) there, even at age 37. Ellsbury would certainly be a dazzling defender in left field, and his limitations with judging balls would be minimized there.

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Links 2009-11-23: Holliday vs Bay, shopping Lowell, Manuel claim, Drew’s shoulder, Sox Hot Stove

There’s a really long article with lots of pretty pictures on Baseball Analysts (one of my long-time favorite sites) comparing Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. Holliday seems to cover the plate better, but Bay’s command of the strike zone is impressive; that 15.0% walk rate this year was not an accident. Bay also seems to be a better fastball hitter, though he pulls a lot and Holliday sprays the ball and uses the field more. From the charts it looks like if you want to get Holliday out, you throw a mixture of breaking stuff in the dirt and high heat.

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Links: Arbitration, winter league prospects, etc

The Extra Bases blog lists those players who are eligible for salary arbitration this offseason: Jonathan Papelbon, Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima, Jeremy Hermida, Casey Kotchman, Manny Delcarmen, Fernando Cabrera and Brian Anderson. Boston must offer them a contract by December 12, or else they become non-tendered free agents. They consider Cabrera and Anderson likely to be non-tender candidates.

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