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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12-16-2010: Sox sign Jenks and DiNardo, talking with Wheeler

Now this is the way an offseason is supposed to go. The Red Sox are striking early and often, inking two more stalwarts for the bullpen today. The Sox got former closer Bobby Jenks on a two-year deal worth $12M, and 31-year old lefty Lenny DiNardo on a minor league/split deal. Jesse Crain just signed a 3-year contract with the wrong color Sox (they love their hard throwing relievers over there in Chicago).

What’s Jenks got left?

Jenks is a classic case of a thrilling young arm that burst on the scene, was overused, and has experienced a decline as closer the past few years. Here are his last few seasons and what we project for him in Fenway for 2011, if he can stay healthy: Read more of this post

8-2-2010: Minor moves at the deadline, Lowell still in play

The Red Sox, expected to land an additional bullpen arm by the deadline, dealt one instead, and made another small acquisition at catcher. It was hard watching the Yankees land Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns, and this is a signal from Boston’s front office that while we’re not giving up on this season, they’re content to let it play out and finish third if we have to. Theo Epstein is clearly thinking 2011 at this point, and I don’t really blame him.

What it will take

Currently at 60-45, the Red Sox sit 6.5 games back of Tampa Bay. If the Rays play .600 baseball the rest of the way, they will have a 100 win season, and we need to go 41-16 to edge them. If they play .550 baseball, they will still have 97 wins and we will need to go 38-19 (.667) the rest of the way. Is this team capable of that? With a healthy rotation, an easier second half schedule and the impending returns of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, you have to think that it’s at least possible. But it means we will have to win just about every series, and probably sweep the Rays in at least one of our two remaining series. We can’t play any worse than taking two of three from the Tigers, or we’re done. That’s why the management decided to go conservative at the deadline.

Let’s look at each move that was made:

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Links 7-2-2010: Catcher crisis, MDC to DL, Gammons, SaberCards are back

Like Deepwater Horizon, the Red Sox DL just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Jason Varitek has a broken foot and will miss 4-6 weeks. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except our other catcher, Victor Martinez, has a broken thumb. So the Red Sox went out and got Kevin Cash, trading away Angel Sanchez as a temporary stopgap. Gustavo Molina will act as the backup for now. Neither of these guys can contribute much offensively, so we just have to hope that Martinez returns quickly.

Manny Delcarmen is also going on the DL today with what is being called a forearm strain. It is thought that Michael Bowden, who has been pitching well recently, might get the call. But he’s been throwing as a starter, and we need bullpen help right away. The recently-signed Rich Hill could be called upon as well.

Peter Gammons talks about the Red Sox woes. Interestingly, he brings up Kerry Wood and his 98 mph fastball as a possible deadline acquisition.

For those of you who love the SaberCard idea (like me), there’s another update, this time featuring our own David Ortiz.

Another baseball visualization, the season TripTik. You can quickly see how hot we’ve been at home in June, and that July and August are going to be tough for the Sox, with so many games on the road.

2009 Offseason: Pedey wins Silver Slugger, other news

Dustin Pedroia has been awarded the AL Silver Slugger at second base. He was clearly the best hitter at his position this year. Put that together with his Gold Glove, and you’re talking arguably the best second baseman in baseball. Congrats, Dustin!

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2008 Offseason: Free agents of interest

The Red Sox have some needs to address, but it appears that their roster and stable of near Major League-ready talent doesn’t have a lot of space right now. Thus, it seems that a trade is the most likely route this offseason; nevertheless, here is what is potentially available on the free agent market (links point to all recent MLB Trade Rumors articles tagged to that player). We’ll start with two of the bigger names, then focus on the Red Sox needs for any potential good fits.

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2008 Offseason: Focus falls on Francona, bullpen

Theo Epstein is reportedly focusing on an extension for Terry Francona and bolstering the best bullpen in the majors last season.

The Sox apparently have interest in former Chicago Cub Kerry Wood as a possible setup man. Wood has not been able to pitch much the last three seasons due to various injuries, but still has his velocity and stuff working, from reports last year. With several teams inquiring on him, Wood could be looking at a two or three-year deal.

Boston also offered a one-year deal to Mike Timlin, though the details have not been revealed.