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.┬áLet’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:

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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Jays and Rays: For real?

If you’ve been following along in the standings recently, you might be alarmed to see that the Toronto Blue Jays just keep winning. Not only that, but the Tampa Bay Rays are playing really good baseball after a less-than-stellar beginning to 2009. Heck, even the Yankees are doing well again. Comparatively, it seems like the Red Sox keep scuffling, playing .500 ball in May. If this keeps up, we may be in trouble. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers and see who we should fear and how much. Read more of this post

2008 ALCS Preview

Say what you want, Tampa Bay is a good team that has had an extraordinary season. They are young, athletic and have a ton of potential. They deserve a lot of credit for keeping the intensity up until the end of the season and finishing with 97 wins, and this will be a great series to watch. And now for the comparison:

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20-13: Sox hand Rays a real sweep

The Boston Red Sox swept the Rays in three Fenway games this weekend. In contrast to the three games in Tampa last weekend (in which Boston could have easily taken two games), the Red Sox took these games by a combined margin of 26-10. There’s been a lot of talk about how good the Rays are now. No doubt, they’ve improved by leaps and bounds, but they are not quite equals with the class of the league just yet.

After a brutal 5-game stretch in which the offense scored only 8 runs total, the bats came alive in this series at Fenway, with Dustin Pedroia (7-14, 2 2B, 4 RS, 5 RBI) and Kevin Youkilis (4-9, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB) leading the way. The Red Sox had at least 11 hits in each of the three games (ouch!). It clearly made a big difference for Jacoby Ellsbury (4-11, 2B, 4 BB, 5 RS, 3 SB) to be back atop the lineup. It was also nice to see David Ortiz also go 4-9 with two doubles, though his aching knee forced him to sit out game 3. The pitching staff put down the Rays handily in all three games, with the three Sox starters going 19 1/3 IP with an overall 2.79 ERA and each being credited with wins.

With the sweep, the Sox are again in sole possession of first place in the AL East and are tied with the Angels for the best record in the AL. This is a great position to be in, with other teams trying to overcome bad starts and personnel issues.

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15-11: Tough loss for Buchholz, 2-1

Reunited with the recuperating Jason Varitek, Clay Buchholz (1-2) shined in his first career start against the Tampa Rays, tossing a three-hit complete game. The problem is that one of those hits was a long 2-run blast by Akinori Iwamura in the bottom of the 8th that gave Tampa the victory, 2-1. Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense missed a lot of opportunities and struggled to produce just one run against the Rays tonight; they now have lost four straight, after winning six in a row.

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91-63: A break in the tension

Congratulations to Josh Beckett (20-6) on becoming the first 20-game winner in the Major Leagues this year! He fully deserves the national recognition that will come with that feat, in his best season ever. Beckett allowed just one run on four hits over six innings, striking out eight Devil Rays. He has been so, so consistent this season, and been a rock in that rotation, even when everything else has looked shaky. This all but assures his status as the AL Cy Young frontrunner.

It was nice to see the Boston bullpen back to normal, with Manny Delcarmen, Javier Lopez and Eric Gagne combining for three scoreless innings of work, even if it was against Tampa Bay. Delcarmen and Gagne fanned two batters each, so the Rays weren’t doing much at the plate. So much for trying out Gagne in pressure situations, though; this game was 8-1 in favor of the good guys by the time he got in.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia continue to give pitchers headaches early in the order, and a little something extra to think about on the basepaths (just ask Dioner Navarro). David Ortiz smacked a tie-breaking RBI single in the 3rd, and followed up with a three-run HR in the 9th, an encouraging sign for our impotent offense.

On this same night, the Yankees would drop a close one to the Blue Jays after 14 innings, returning the lead to 2 1/2 games. What a sweet night.