Links 11-10-2010: Sox contact every free agent, offseason predictions, Crawford vs Werth

We should clear up something: just because the Sox have contacted Jayson Werth doesn’t mean they’ve targeted him as THE acquisition for the offseason. In fact, Theo Epstein tends to work like a shrewd hedge fund manager and plan for contingencies, diversifying his free agent portfolio. Basically the Sox have many possible plans of action, and which one they take is determined by the market. If the price for Werth climbs too high, they default to another plan with someone else. Accordingly, the Sox have contacted just about every major free agent already to try and gauge who would fit well and what their expectations are. This serves the double purpose of masking our true intentions, in case someone out there wants to bid us up.

Offseason predictions

The writers at MLB Trade Rumors have taken a stab at predicting where this year’s free agents will end up. Their consensus is that the Yankees will land Cliff Lee, and the Angels will nab Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre. I agree about Lee; after re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera to pricey deals, I think the Yankees will land him (at over $20M per season) and basically be done. The Halos need to make a big splash, and while they love speed and are in dire need of the outfield defense Crawford would provide, they have other big problem areas, most notably third base and the rotation. I find it unlikely that they will land both Crawford and Beltre, who will command upwards of $30M/year between the two of them. The Angels featured the worst third base production in the Majors last year, and they have no internal options there. They love their Hispanic players, so my guess is Beltre goes with them (he likes the West Coast anyway).

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11-9-2010: Sox reach out to Werth, Martinez a must sign, Adrian when?

According to Gordon Edes, the Red Sox have touched base with agent Scott Boras to express their interest in free agent outfielder Jayson Werth. The massive 6-5, 220 Werth will be 32 next season, and is reportedly seeking a contract approaching that of Matt Holliday’s 7-year, $120M deal (with an option year) last offseason. He is athletic and runs well, so he figures to age a bit better than the average 31-year old. Still, giving a player his age more than 4 years, $72M seems like a mistake. That gap makes me think that Werth will be a hard sign for the Red Sox, who have more pressing needs in the infield anyway. Regardless, they have to keep the door open and see what way the market goes; that’s their modus operandi.

My projections have Werth hitting .258/.346/.467 with a .369 wOBA in Fenway (think roughly Jason Bay with better defense and no knee issues). As a right-handed bat with some power, he looks like a direct replacement for Adrian Beltre in the lineup, but he would walk more, in the Red Sox style of play. Like most top Boras guys, don’t expect Werth to sign anytime soon.

Due to the weakness of the catching market, the staff at BP believe that Victor Martinez is a must-sign for the Red Sox. That would be true, but the Sox have been exploring the trade market for catchers for several years now, so it’s not like they are without any alternatives. However, Martinez is the best offensive one, by far.

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Links 8-20-2010: Prospects post, playoffs slipping away, some bright spots, Papelbon

All told, the Red Sox spent a team record $10.66M on signing bonuses for this year’s draft class, guys who had not pitched a professional inning. It was a necessary infusion of talent into a farm system that has been drained of top prospects and had some of our best young guys get injured or tarnished this year. Considering we drafted well and signed all of our first 10 picks, evaluators have been picking the Sox draft as the best in our division this year.

Baseball America published their “best tools” series this week, and many Red Sox prospects got recognition, especially the superb defense currently at Double-A Portland.

Catching prospect Adalberto Ibarra did not pass his physical, so he renegotiated his contract with Boston to the tune of $700-800k. That’s a far cry from the $3M guaranteed deal that he originally agreed to. Sure, it saves money, but it must have been a significant issue for him to backtrack so much on the numbers.

Goodbye 2010?

Just when you think the Sox are ready to turn the corner, a day like yesterday happens. Dustin Pedroia is held out with foot pain, and Josh Beckett gets lit up by a so-so lineup in the Angels. Jarrod Saltalamacchia gets sent to the DL with a mystery leg infection. Add that up with no more Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, and you’ve got a boring October looming.

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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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Links 3-16-2010: Westmoreland, Lowrie, more ST notes, Nomar, our offense, the farm system

Bad news this week: OF prospect Ryan Westmoreland has been discovered to have a brain malformation, and he has been placed on medical leave. He’s due to have surgery today in Arizona, so let’s all remember him and his family.┬áSS Jed Lowrie is also undergoing tests after feeling weak and experiencing an accelerated heartbeat this week. What is going on with all these repeat injury guys?

Despite earlier claims that he’s better, Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to disappoint Red Sox Nation, as he was scratched from throwing BP today. He threw a 19 pitch bullpen instead. First it was the back, then the neck.. He has been rescheduled for Wednesday, and there is speculation that he will start the year on the DL. David Ortiz, meanwhile, dismissed questions about his Spring hitting and then proceeded to blast a home run against the Orioles today. Nice work, Papi.

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Links 2-2-2010: Sox bring in Nelson and Molina, the new strategy, looking ahead

The Red Sox signed reliever Joe Nelson to a minor league deal yesterday. Though he’s right-handed, Nelson is a fastball/changeup pitcher who has been more effective against lefties over his career (split over his total OPS is 85R/114L). He does walk too many RHB, but this is a nice, sneaky way to improve the bullpen against lefties without actually adding a lefty. This is a very solid signing, and my suspicion is that he will make the team in a low-leverage/LOOGY role; that’s how Tampa Bay used him last year. We have him projected for a 4.17 ERA over about 45 IP.

The Red Sox also signed catcher Gustavo Molina to a minor league deal last week. No, he’s not related to the Molina brothers, who are all Major League catchers. But he’ll provide some depth for us at Pawtucket.

Boston clearly has a new strategy for 2010 and beyond. Rather than OBP, it is now defense which seems to be undervalued around baseball. Good pitching and defense should be fun to watch.

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Links 1-22-2010: More on Bay, prospects news, Hazen interview

More and more details continue to be revealed regarding the negotiations between the Red Sox and Jason Bay from last season. Bay confirmed that Boston was wary of signing him because of concerns about his knees. Bay insisted he was healthy, but the Sox medical team didn’t agree, which led to the rift in contract talks. Good luck in New York, Jason, and thanks for the 1.5 great seasons here.

News from the rookie program: He may be slightly built (he’s still just 20 years old), but Jose Iglesias has really impressed his fellow prospects so far with his slick defensive play. Peter Abraham met the guys in the Rookie Program, and gives his thoughts on some of the players.

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Links 1-19-2010: Avoiding arbitration, reliever value, Gammons on Bay

The Red Sox have four remaining players who have filed for salary arbitration and have not yet signed for 2010. Epstein still hasn’t gone to arbitration with anyone yet, so I’m fairly certain all of these will be taken care of soon. The chief concern among these is Jonathan Papelbon, who wants to be paid record sums of money on a team that is too smart to commit to overpaying long-term. There is a report out today that Paps may be close to signing on the dotted line for $9M, a hefty sum that is more than fair for 65-70 innings of work per season.

On a related note, the inimitable Dave Cameron explains here why relievers are just not worth what some people think, and why saber-savvy teams like Boston avoid those huge deals for closers.

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2010 Preview: Updated Projections

The Red Sox seem to have made all of the major moves they are going to make this offseason. Now that our lineup looks to be all but set, let’s take a look at where we currently stand and what we might expect from this team this coming year.

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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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