11-9-2011: Other areas of need and available free agents

Ben Cherington came out yesterday and suggested that the Red Sox were not likely to be big players on the free agent market this offseason. I think he’s being genuine, but even if they were, what good would it do them to come out and say that?

Here are the problem areas as I see them, and some free agent projections (all numbers assume a transition to the AL East).

1. Starting pitching

With so much money already committed to the rotation, I would be surprised if the Red Sox continued to throw money at this problem. Adding C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish would be nice, but can we afford another $100M contract here, while our core players will be earning more and more every season? Signing a big arm to a long-term deal like that might mean saying goodbye to Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz once their current deals expire.

Name Age IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP
CJ Wilson 31 182.1 8.2 3.7 0.5 3.42 1.30
Roy Oswalt 34 161.6 7.1 2.4 0.9 3.93 1.30
Erik Bedard 33 64.2 8.7 3.5 1.0 3.94 1.36
Hiroki Kuroda 37 154.8 7.2 2.4 1.0 4.06 1.34
Mark Buehrle 33 189.1 4.9 2.1 0.9 4.10 1.39
Edwin Jackson 28 186.5 7.3 3.3 0.9 4.14 1.45
Freddy Garcia 35 109.2 6.1 2.7 1.0 4.27 1.40
Bartolo Colon 39 93.8 7.0 2.7 1.2 4.28 1.40
Javier Vazquez 35 167.3 8.0 2.7 1.3 4.41 1.33
Jeff Francis 31 123.2 5.6 2.4 0.9 4.58 1.46
Paul Maholm 30 161.2 5.5 3.2 0.9 4.68 1.54
Tim Wakefield 45 118.8 5.8 3.3 1.1 4.92 1.46

As you can see, bringing back Tim Wakefield really shouldn’t be an option; almost any free agent is likely to be better than him going forward. Erik Bedard has huge injury concerns, and that’s not what this staff needs. Hiroki Kuroda doesn’t seem likely to come out east. I think Roy Oswalt could be a fit if he’s willing to take a two-year deal at good money, and Buehrle would be a solid signing if we can get him for fewer than four years. Edwin Jackson scares me a little bit long-term, so I’d avoid offering him more than three years as well.

2. A closer/setup man (or two)

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Hot Stove 2010: Options for a SP

I started doing these summaries as one post, and it just got too darn long. I just ad to throw away my shortstop post today. Anyway, on we go to starting pitching.

The Sox rotation is young (apart from Tim Wakefield) and strong, but lacks veteran depth. Behind a budding ace in Jon Lester and a very solid Josh Beckett, we’ve got (at worst) a middle-of-the-rotation filler in Daisuke Matsuzaka and some young talent. The Sox could easily go their typically conservative route, or they can trade away some of those juicy prospects for an upper-tier pitcher:

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Hot Stove 2010: But what about Miguel Cabrera?

Judging from the popularity of certain posts in recent days, it seems that a lot of people are interested in acquiring Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers are desperate to trim payroll, and they’re poking around to gauge interest in case they want to dump one or two of a number of young and still productive players, including Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson, and now Cabrera. And who wouldn’t want to add a right-handed, 26-year old 30-HR hitter with a .311/.383/.542 resume? My suggestion to you is to read this great article by Matt Klaassen at FanGraphs.

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Three days of Rays

If we’re going to overtake Tampa Bay in the standings, this is going to be one of the most important series left this year. Our roster is getting healthy, and we will have J.D. Drew back tonight as well. We have a chance to sweep, but my feeling is that we will probably take 2 of 3 and finish the series 1/2 game back of the Rays.

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38-25: Sox reclaim 1st with sweep of the Rays

Tampa has become a pretty solid team, but I still think it’s clear who the best team in the AL East is. The Red Sox completed another three-game sweep of the Rays at Fenway, running their winning streak at home to 13 games and retaking the lead in the division.

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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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